Pan de muerto Revisited

Posted on Posted in breads, breakfast, dessert, holidays, Mexican, Spanish, yeast

This weekend (el primero y 2 de noviembre), the day after Halloween, a very sacred holiday will take place – El día de los muertos. Although I am not Mexican, I celebrate and respect this holiday even more than Halloween. Why? Because I am comforted by the idea of honoring loved ones who have passed on and “bringing them back” into the present world via a multitude of tangible symbols such as altars showcasing loved ones’ photos and momentos, skullface paintings, sugar skulls. I especially enjoy the culinary dishes that are usually present around these two days, such as mole and pan de muerto.
In 2009 (whoa!), I made pan de muerto for the first time. I enjoyed forming the “bones” on top of the round domes of dough. The bread was delicious as well :o). This year, however, I decided to make pan de muerto using a different recipe that has now overshadowed the previous pan de muerto.

The inside of this bread is dense yet soft; the texture reminds one of the inside of panettone. It is best to eat warm and with leche, atole, champurrado, café, or chocolate caliente, but the bread is good cold as well (my students can attest to that!). I also preferred this recipe over the previous one for another reason: the simplicity of ingredients. In the old recipe, I remember driving everywhere for special ingredients that I never used again. With the current pan de muertorecipe, however, the only non-everyday ingredient, for some, is anise seeds, and many of you probably already have this ingredient sitting in your pantry and waiting to be used by you in such a recipe as this one ;o)!

Even if you’re not Mexican, try out this lovely bread and dedicate it to a loved one who is no longer physically present on this earth. You two can enjoy eating it together. 🙂 In the meantime, watch this video I show to my students every year around this time. It is a cute way to express the importance of this 2-day holiday of remembrance. Then come back here and make this bread! 😀

I am submitting this post to Yeastspotting!

 PAN DE MUERTO
translated and slightly adapted by All Recipes México (en español)
  • ¼ taza de mantequilla / ¼ cup of butter
  • ¼ taza de leche / ¼ cup of milk
  • ¼ taza de agua tibia (45°C/113°F) / ¼ cup of warm water (45°C/113°F)
  • 3 tazas harina / 3 cups all-purpose/plain flour
  • 1 ¼ cucharadita de levadura / 1 ¼ tsp yeast 
  • ½ cucharadita de sal / ½ tsp of salt
  • 2 cucharaditas de semillas de anís / 2 tsp anise seeds
  • ¼ taza de azúcar blanca / ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 huevos batidos / 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cucharaditas de ralladura de naranja / 2 tsp of grated orange peel

 Para el barniz / For the glaze:

  • ¼ taza de azúcar blanca / ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ taza de jugo de naranja / ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cucharadita de ralladura de naranja / 1 tsp grated orange peel
  • 2 cucharaditas de azúcar blanca / 2 tsp of white sugar
  • 2 cucharaditas de canela (opcional) / 2 tsp of cinnamon (optional)
1.     Calienta la leche y la mantequilla en una cacerola mediana, hasta que la mantequilla se derrita. Retira del fuego y agrega el agua tibia. La mezcla deberá tener una temperatura de 45 °C.
      Heat the milk and butter in a medium-sized pot until the butter has melted completely. Remove the pot from the burner. Add the warm water, and allow the mixture to cool to 45 °C/113 °F.
2.     Mezcla 1 taza de harina, levadura, sal, semillas de anís y ¼ de taza de azúcar en un tazón grande. Envuelve la mezcla de leche tibia, luego los huevos y 2 cucharaditas de ralladura de naranja, hasta que estén bien mezclados. Incorpora ½ taza de harina y sigue agregando más harina hasta que la masa esté suave.
      In a large mixing bowl, mix 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seeds, and ¼ cup of sugar. Blend well before mixing in the room-temperature eggs and 2 tsp. of grated orange peel. Mix well. Next, incorporate ½ cup of flour and keep adding more flour (½ cup at a time) until the dough becomes soft and manageable.
3.     Coloca la masa en una superficie enharinada y amasa hasta que alcance una consistencia suave y elástica.
      If using a stand mixer, change to a dough hook and knead the dough for 6-8 minutes. If not using a stand mixer, place the dough on a floured-surface and knead the bread for 10 minutes or until the dough is soft and elastic and strong strands of gluten have formed.
The freshly kneaded dough before I placed it in the refrigerator for a few hours. Look at the specks of orange & anise seeds!
4.     Pon la masa en un recipiente ligeramente engrasado, cubre plástico adherente y deja reposar de 1 a 2 horas hasta que duplique su volumen. “Poncha” la masa con tu puño y forma una bola redonda con una bolita en el centro. Coloca la masa en una charola para hornear, cubre con plástico adherente y deja que repose de nuevo en un lugar tibio durante 1 hora o hasta que duplique su tamaño.
      [SUPPLEMENTARY INSTRUCTIONS] Once the dough has been well-kneaded, place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl (I use my stand mixer bowl) and cover it with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Allow it to rest and rise for 1-2 hours (I left my dough in the refrigerator for about 5-6 hours, and it was fine. The dough is supposed to rise slower in the fridge. You could also leave it in the fridge overnight (check the dough level every few hours though!) and do the next steps on the following day. Allow the dough to come to room temperature first, which should take about 2 hours.).
      Once the dough has risen, deflate the dough and form 7 small dough balls or 4 large balls (I doubled this recipe, so I had seven large dough balls).
Pardon the bad lighting. I made these photos at night.
      BREAD AND BONES FORMATION: Divide dough in 7 small equal parts (or 4 large) (I weighed the dough and divided the total weight by 7 (222 grams/dough ball for me). 6 of those parts will become your loaves and the last one will be used to make the decorations. Form the 6 loaves (or 4 large), place them on a greased baking sheet and let them double in size, covered.
      To form the “bones”, take the extra ball of dough and separate it into 14 parts (I weighed the dough and divided the total weight by 14) roll 12 of the dough balls into a snake-like shape (2 per dough ball). Then roll the “snake” with your finger while applying pressure to form separations in the snake/dough. For the remaining two small balls of dough, divide them into 6 parts and roll them into a ball.
      The recipe doesn’t call for an egg wash, but I used one (one egg + 1 tsp heavy cream), but you can use just water, milk, or egg. The egg wash is needed not only for color, but also to attach the bones and ball to the bread ball.
      Once the dough ball has been brushed with the egg wash, place the bones on the bread in a crisscross fashion. Then place the ball of dough on top.
Shaped dough with “bones” and egg wash.
5.     Hornea a 180 °C durante de 35 a 45 minutos. Retira del horno, deja que se enfríe un poco y barniza la superficie.
      Bake the bread in a preheated oven of 180 °C/350 °F. Remove from oven and allow it to cool on a cooling rack. While it cools or near the end of the baking time, prepare the glaze . . .
Fresh from the oven w/o glaze. For the first 10 minutes, the loaves were too high in the oven! Don’t make my mistake!
6.     BARNIZ: Para preparar el barniz, mezcla ¼ de azúcar, jugo de naranja y 1 cucharadita de ralladura de naranja en una cacerola pequeña. Deja que hierva a fuego medio durante 2 minutos. Barniza el pan con una brocha mientras aún está tibio. Espolvorea el pan barnizado con el resto del azúcar blanca.
      GLAZE: To prepare the glaze, mix ¼ sugar, orange juice, and 1 tsp. of grated orange peel in a small pot. Allow the sugar mixture to boil on medium heat for 2 minutes. Brush the warm bread with this glaze and then roll the bread in sugar and cinnamon (if using).
Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangiodasola.com

7 thoughts on “Pan de muerto Revisited

  1. Your bread looks lovely, Memoria! I am glad that the Mexican culture holds so many sweet memories for you. I love your dedication to the people and their traditions!

  2. Profesora James!!! Encontre su blog y me gusta mucho! Gracias por compartir esta receta-alamejor me animo a intentarla este mes para el Dia de los Muertos:-)
    Ruth (Span 302/ Fall 2015 class)

  3. ¡¡¡Ruth!!! Me alegro de que hayas visitado mi blog y que te haya gustado :). Espero que pruebes esta y otras recetas. Deja un comentario despuès :).

    Cuìdate 🙂

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