Pan de Muerto is a traditional sweet bread made for Dia De Los Muertos celebrations. Anise seed, orange zest and cinnamon make this fragrant bread worth the effort! You’ll want to make this bread all year long.
Thank you Zulka sugar for sponsoring this post. Since I’ve used Zulka sugar before (and I like it) I’m happy to work with them to bring you these Sugar Skulls!
Pan de Muerto for Dia De Los Muertos
Pan de Muerto is a sweet yeast bread traditionally made to celebrate Dia De Los Muertos. There are many different variations of this bread. It’s one of those recipes that seems to change from family to family.
One common shape for Pan de Muerto loaves is to form them into a round shape with rolled strips of dough on top representing bones.Loaves may also be shaped into skulls, animals or even made to resemble the deceased.
Pan de Muerto is enjoyed during graveyard picnics and and also placed on altars as a way to celebrate the lives of loved ones who passed away. Since the deceased can’t actually eat the food placed on the altars, fragrant ingredients are used for the dead to enjoy the aromas.
Anise seed is a common ingredient giving the bread a pleasantly unique flavor along with the brightness of the orange zest and orange juice. A little cinnamon makes the a perfect spice harmony!
This fragrant bread has an unforgettable aroma as it bakes and the flavor makes it worth the effort. I usually brush melted butter over the warm loaves and sprinkle sugar on top for the perfect finishing touch.
Pan de Muerto is a must for any Dia De Los Muertos celebration! I’ve made this recipe a day ahead and melted butter to brush on top the morning before serving. I hope you enjoy this recipe!
- ½ cup Zulka granulated sugar
- zest of one large orange
- 3 tsp anise seeds
- ¾ tsp salt
- 6½ cups flour
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup milk
- two ¼ oz. packets active dry yeast
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ¼ cup orange juice
- melted butter for brushing on top of the baked loaves
- more Zulka granulated sugar for sprinkling
- In the bowl of a stand mixer add sugar and orange zest. Mix for about 30 seconds using the paddle attachment.
- Now add in the anise seeds, salt and flour.
- In a microwave safe bowl combine the water and milk. Microwave for 45 seconds then test with a thermometer to make sure the temperature is at 90 degrees F or lower.
- Add yeast to the milk mixture then stir together. Let it rest for about 10 minutes.
- Then pour the milk and yeast mixture into the dry ingredients along with the eggs, butter and orange juice.
- Mix everything together on low using the dough hook. Once the ingredients are combined, knead for 8 minutes. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time if needed. The dough should be tacky, sticky but not coming off on your finger when you poke it, and dough should roll on the bottom of the bowl without sticking.
- Lightly oil a clean bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for two hours or until the dough doubles in size.
- After rising gently punch down the dough and remove from the bowl. Turn out onto a clean, dry flat surface to form the loaves.
- Divide the dough into three equal pieces.
- Pull off a handful of dough from each piece and set the handfuls aside.
- Form each large piece into a ball by pulling the sides down and pinching together underneath the dough ball.
- Going back to the handfuls of dough, we are going to make the pieces that cross over the bread to resemble bones with a ball for the top.
- Pull off a small piece from each handful of dough previously removed and form three balls. Set the balls aside.
- Taking the dough remaining from one of the handfuls, roll into a long strip and cut into 2-3 pieces, long enough to stretch from one side of the loaf to the other, tucking the ends underneath. Lay pieces on top, crossing in the center.
- Do the same with the last two handfuls.
- Leave the small dough balls aside for now.
- Place the formed loaves on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and let them rise in a warm place for an hour.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Take the small balls and place one on top of each loaf. Press down on top of each ball with your palm, pushing into the loaves.
- Brush room temperature water on top of each loaf.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the bread is a light brown color.
- Remove from the oven and let the loaves cool on a wire rack.
- Brush melted butter on top of the cooled loaves and sprinkle sugar on top.
Pabassinas for Dia De Los Muertos are a cookie flavored with orange zest and anise seeds with raisins and almonds mixed in. The glaze takes these cookies over the top! Such a delicious tradition for your Day of the Dead celebration!
A big thank you to Zulka sugar for sponsoring this post and for the sugars they sent me! I love presents. These sugar skulls were a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy making your own!
Zulka Pure Cane Sugars are available at major retailers nationwide, including Walmart, Safeway, Sam’s Club, Albertsons, Kroger, Ralph’s, Fred Meyer, QFC, Food Maxx, Save a Lot, Von’s, Target, SUPERVALU, Food 4 Less, Superior, Winn-Dixie, El Super, Winco and many others, as well as online at www.zulka.com.
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