Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pan De Muerto

Each year I look forward to making Pan de Muerto, it's always one of the first things in my oven after the summer baking hiatus. Pan De Muerto is a rich egg bread, subtly flavored with anise and brushed with a sticky sweet orange glaze. It’s delicious with coffee and I imagine it would make great french toast.

Pan de Muerto, or Bread of the Dead, is made as an offering and set out on the altars on Dia de los Muertos. It is said that the dead need nourishment after their long journey home, so families will make different dishes including mole, pan de muerto, and anything else they may have enjoyed in life.

Pan De Muerto
adapted from Cocina de la Familia
(printable recipe)

4-5 c flour
2 packages active yeast
2 tbsp. anise seeds
2 sticks (1 c) butter, melted
6 egg yolks, beaten
2 whole eggs, beaten
heaping 1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

for the glaze:
juice from 1 large orange
1/4 sugar
1 tsp orange zest (optional)

Steep the anise seeds in 1/4 c boiling water until cool, about 15 minutes. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 c warm water.
Pour the anise seeds (and liquid), yeast, melted butter, sugar, eggs, and salt into a large bowl. Gradually add the flour 1 c at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides and forms a slightly sticky ball. Knead for 10 minutes on a floured surface.
Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray and place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hrs.
Turn out the dough and pinch off a few pieces to make the decorative top. Form the rest into a nice round and top with pieces of dough arranged to resemble bones with a knob center. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise 1 hour. Bake at 375 degrees, about 45 minutes.

For the glaze: Combine the juice, sugar, and zest over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and brush onto the bread. Dust the entire loaf with sugar (you may need to rub it on to adhere to the sides). I was running low so I opted not to with this loaf but it does add a bit of extra sweetness and texture. Allow the bread to cool before slicing.


  1. looks so awesome. i adore dia de los muertos. they don't celebrate it where i am in wyoming. :(

  2. Very nice! I haven't seen it with an orange glaze before, but it does make it look ever so sticky and yummy. :-) Love your French toast idea, too.

  3. @ Lesley: Definitely try the orange glaze, it's really tasty! The glaze was my way of adding the traditional orange flavor since I didn't have any orange blossom water that is often used. Just smelling it simmering away on the stove makes my mouth water!

  4. I made french toast with mine last year too! Isn't it delicious?!