Day of the Dead Bread-Pan De Muerto


Makes 3 -6” round loaves or 4- 4” little round loaves.

  • 1 lb / 500 gr. unbleached all purpose flour* plus 1/2-3/4 of a cup more flour for dusting when shaping and kneading.
  • ¾ cup / 200gr. Sugar.
  • ¾ cup / 200 gr. Butter room temperature and cut into small chunks.
  • ½ cup / 125ml. Whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons dry active yeast or one little dry active yeast package of 7gr.
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 2 yolks, save the whites for egg wash later…
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water /extracto de flor de azhar
  • 1 teaspoon ground anise seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground mexican cinnamon
  • the zest of one small orange

For the egg wash:

  • 2 left over egg whites you saved when making the dough…
  • A dash of milk

Coming out of the oven:

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon


Day one:

Measure and gather all your ingredients.

Start by warming the milk just about luke warm, add a teaspoon of sugar and sprinkle the yeast until bloom. About 10-15 minutes. The yeast should look foamy and creamy.

Meantime, on a clean flat surface make a “wheel” with the flour using your bowl to make a perfect circle.

Sprinkle the sugar around the flour wheel. In the center add the eggs, egg yolks, spices, extracts, anise, cinnamon, salt. Check on your yeast and if its ready add it to the center of the wheel. Mix all this ingredients using the tips of your fingers or a fork.

With your hand in a spider position, start incorporating little by little the flour from the edges. Be careful and gentle not to break the flour ring. Start in circular motions all around the inner flour circle until you have fully incorporated all the flour and almost all the sugar.

Now using both hands start incorporating the butter. At this point you can decide, kneading the dough by hand for about 20-25 minutes, it is hard work, but I love the way the dough develops as the warm of your hands soften the dough and help the yeast making the dough smooth and shiny. This efforts shown when the bread is baked, it comes out with a tender finer crumb. The other option, using your mixer with a dough hook for about 10-15 minutes. Both routes work is just about preference and time. ~for me, the key to making a good dough is to feel the dough, that’s why I prefer to mix it by hand.

As dough is kneaded, you can add up to 1/2 cup more flour if needed, if after kneading, the dough feels to sticky, sprinkle 1/4 cup and knead, until your dough feels soft, moist, smooth,and has a shine to it. This dough is very easy to make and as soon the kneading develops the right texture you will know. It will feel soft and it looks a bit shiny, as you can see on the last picture below. So be patient, give the love and knead gently and confident that everything will come out at the right time.

Once the dough is ready dust a large bowl with flour, place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and place it in the refrigerator over night. I’ve tried different methods and the bread did not come out as tender and buttery as traditional good bread. 8 to 10 hours over night gives the right time for the dough to develop flavor.

Day two:

Pull dough out of refrigerator, punch your dough and reshape kneading gently and briefely.

Flour a clean surface and cut into 4 equal parts. Shape each part using your hands creating a concave shape, gently surround the dough with your hand like a little cave, and gently, create circular motion with the dough rubbing against the table until you have formed a smooth round ball. Place each ball into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover gently with a piece of plastic wrap dusted with flour and a clean kitchen towel.

Shape 3 parts of the dough and save one to make the bones and skulls for the tops. Divide this ball into 6 stripes and 3 small 1” balls equal sizes.

With your fingers make a little cylinder strip and gently pressing in between your fingers make the bones.

Place the bone strips, forming a cross and then place the a small ball in the middle, flattening a little making sure it sticks with the rest of the dough.

Cover the tray with a piece of plastic wrap dusted with flour to prevent to stick. Let the bread rise for a second time for about 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. Once they are doubled apply the egg wash evenly.

Preheat the oven at 375F / 190C Place tray in the oven, and lower the temperature to 350F/ 175C .Bake for 25-30 minutes.Until golden brown and hollow sound.

Remove from oven, brush them with melted butter and drench in sugar. Cool bread on a rack. Prepare the hot cocoa, a cafe de olla and be ready to celebrate!