Pan de Muerto – Spanish for “Bread of the dead”.
Pan de Muero is a soft sweet bread that is prepared all around Mexico during the Día de Muertos festival as a symbolic offering to the deceased souls.
During the holiday (Oct. 31 – Nov. 2), Mexicans honor their loved ones who have passed away, and leave them offerings or “ofrendas” at their gravesites or at altars made at home. The offerings left for the dead usually consist of items the loved ones enjoyed when they were alive. In addition to the deceased’s favorite food and drink, a loaf of Pan de Muerto is also placed as an offering. The bread is shaped to resemble human bones in a circle, representing the circle of life, and is often decorated with a tear drop for the living.
It is believed that the spirits do not eat the bread, but absorb its essence, along with the other items included in the altars, after their long journey back to earth to celebrate with the living during Día de Muertos.
1 Kg. All-purpose flour
250 gr. Sugar
40 gr. Dry Yeast
240 gr. Unsalted butter at room temperature
200 ml. Whole milk
6 large eggs
15 gr. Salt
05 gr. Orange blossom water
2 oranges zest
20 gr. Cinnamon powder
50 ml. Vanilla extract
Place the flour, dry yeast, cinnamon powder, sugar, orange zest and salt in the mixer bowl, for about 2 minutes. Continue now by adding one at a time the milk, vanilla extract, orange blossom water, and the eggs. At the end add the unsalted butter mixing well until soft dough forms.
Get the dough out of the mixer bowl and place onto a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until it doubles in size for about 10 minutes. Transfer the dough from the bowl onto working surface. Separate 300 grams of the dough to form the decorative bones later on. Cut the rest of the dough in 40grs. pieces. Prepare 2 greased baking sheets and set aside.
Shaping the Pan de Muerto bread:
Take one portion of the dough and place in the palm of your hand, we put our fingers in and add a bit of pressure and shape each piece into a tight ball rolling the dough on the surface. This is called “bolear” in Spanish (if, at first they do not look fine to you, do not worry you will achieve this with practice) Place on prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Press the dough slightly.
Now place the remaining 300 grs of dough we reserved onto the work surface, dusting with flour if needed, and knead until the flour is integrated perfectly (this is for the bones to decorate our breads).
We take small portions of dough and roll in small logs putting a little pressure with the fingers to form the bones. Once your bones are already formed (we need 2 for each bread).
Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until buns are touching and doubled in size, for about 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 ° F/ 180 ° C. Transfer buns to oven and bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, approximately).
Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Once your Pan de Muerto bread is completely cooled, brush with some melted butter and then dust with sugar.
We hope you enjoy this recipe and have fun making your Pan de Muerto at home!
Tag us @nizucresort with photos of your creations and hashtag #DiadeMuertosNIZUC
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Like any special occasion in Mexico, food plays a vital role in the festival. The most essential delicacy is Pan de Muertos, a delicious loaf of sweet bread, coated in sugar, and decorated to resemble a circle of human bones. Follow along with our pastry Chef Rubén Sánchez as he shows you how to bake your own Pan de Muerto at home. Share your creations with us using the hashtag #DíadeMuertosNIZUC