Recipe: Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead)
Pan de Muerto is a staple of Day of the Dead celebrations. Although there are countless variations of the recipe, it is usually flavoured with anise or ground cinnamon. Traditionally, Pan de Muerto is shaped like a round loaf, with rolled strips of dough layered on top tot resemble the bones of the dead. The bread is sometimes decorated with icing or shapes of favourite items of loved ones who have died.
50g (2 oz) butter
4 tablespoons semi skimmed milk
4 tablespoons warm water (45 C)
375g (13 oz) plain flour
1 1/4 teaspoons dried active baking yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dessertspoon anise seed
4 tablespoons caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 dessertspoon orange zest
1. Heat the milk and the butter together until the butter melts (do not boil). Remove from the heat and add the warm water.
2. In a large bowl, combine 1/3 of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and four tablespoons of sugar. Beat in the warm milk mixture then add the eggs and orange zest and beat until well combined. Stir in the remaining flour, a little at a time, until the dough is soft.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, about 9 to 10 minutes.
4. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover loosely with cling-film and let it rise in a warm place until around double in size. This will take 1 - 2 hours.
5. Punch the dough down and shape it into a large round loaf. Traditionally these loaves are shaped into skulls. Strips of dough can also be formed into bones and arranged on top of the loaves.
6. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool slightly then brush with glaze.
To make the glaze
In a small saucepan combine the sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for two minutes. Brush over top of bread while still warm. Sprinkle the glazed bread with white sugar.