Day of the Dead Bread Recipes or Bread of the Dead
Pan de Muerto Recipes, Dead Bread for Day of the Dead
Pan de Muerto, Day of the Dead Bread, Bread of the Dead or Dead Bread for short is a tasty traditional egg-based sweet bread made for the Dias de los Muertos holidays in Mexico, the United States and in other Latin American countries. The holiday is celebrated around October 31 to November 2, depending on the region.
Day of the Dead Bread, Pan de Muertos is usually flavored with anise and orange and is shaped into skulls, skeletons and rounds of bread decorated with bones or crossbones.
While any egg bread takes time to make as you need to wait for the yeast to rise, not once, but twice, those who have sampled these sweet breads know that the bread is worth the wait.
It has been reported that in some rural regions of Mexico "residents will walk or ride as far as they must to purchase pan de muerto."
This traditional sweet egg bread is a recipe found in many cultures. Discover more about the Dia de los Muertos traditions and try some Pan de Muertos recipes for making your own Day of the Dead Bread.
Displaying Bread on a Dia de los Muertos Altar
Tradition of Pan de Muerto
Pan de Muertos, Day of the Dead bread is part of the traditions of the Dia de los Muertos celebrations. The dead bread is made during this holiday time to place on the altars (Ofrendas) and in the cemeteries for the departed spirits or deceased loved ones.
The tradition of bringing bread to cemeteries or places where the dead rest may go back to the Aztecs. The Aztecs made cakes to place on top of their tombs, where the food was used to sustain the spirits on their journey to their underworld.
Different villages and countries have their own unique style of Pan de Muertos. One popular style is the one pictured above is of a round bread loaf with bits of extra dough used to make bones for the top. Other popular shapes are skulls, skeletons and in some regions, humanoid like figures called animas (souls).
Bread of the Dead is not only for the departed. Pan de Muertos is enjoyed by the living with hot chocolate as they tell stories during the holidays about loved ones who have died.
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Pan de Muertos - Day of the Dead Bread
Bread of the Dead - Dead Bread
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Bread of the Dead Recipe
Bread of the Dead is often formed in different shapes. One of the more common is in the shape of a skull, or a round loaf where strips of dough have been attached at the top to resemble bones.
Total Time: 3 - 4 Hours with time for dough to rise
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 5 to 5-1/2 cups flour
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon whole anise seed
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.
- 2. Add milk and water until warm, but not boiling.
- 3. Measure out 1-1/2 cups flour and set the rest aside.
- 4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the 1-1/2 cups flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and sugar.
- 5. Add the warm butter, milk and water mixture until well combined.
- 6. Add eggs one at a time, then mix in another 1 cup of flour.
- 7. Continue adding more flour until dough is soft but not sticky.
- 8. Turn dough onto lightly floured board and kneed for ten minutes until smooth and elastic.
- 9. Lightly grease a bowl and place dough in the bowl
- 10. Cover with a cloth and let rise in warm place (oven on low heat) until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.
- 11. Punch the dough down into a smaller ball
- 12. Shape dough into small loaves resembling skulls, skeletons or round loaves.
- 13. Pieces of extra dough can be added on top as "bones."
- 14. Let these loaves rise for 1 hour.
- 15. Bake in a preheated 350 F degree oven for 40 minutes.
- 16. Remove from oven allow to cool.
- 17. Paint on Orange glaze (recipe below) and sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired or eat as is with coffee or hot chocolate.Orange Pan de Muertos Glaze
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
- 1. Mix sugar, orange juice and orange zest in a small pan.
- 2. Bring to a boil. Let mixture boil for 2 minutes
- 3. Apply to bread with a pastry brush.
- 4. If desired, sprinkle on sugar crystals or colored sugar while glaze is still damp.
- Recipe modified from Day of the Dead Bread. Tohono Chul Park Activity Brochure.
- Day of the Dead Bread by Fluence. Image in Public Domain
Ingredients for Making Pan de Muertos
Some of the extras needed to make this recipe are a citrus zester to get the freshly grated orange zest and the spice anise.
Granite Mortar and Pestle
How to Make Pan de Muerto
Another recipe for Day of the Dead Bread, this comes from the book, Festival of Bones found below>
Total Time: 3 - 4 Hours with rising time
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 packets dry yeast
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon anise seed
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter
- 4 eggs
- 3 - 4 1/2 cups additional flour
- 1. Mix all dry ingredients together except the 3 - 4 1/2 cups of flour.
- 2. Heat, but do not boil the milk, water and butter in a small pan.
- 3. Add the warm milk mixture to the dry mixture and mix well.
- 4. Add the eggs and 1 1/2 cups additonal flour to the mixture. Beat well.
- 5. Slowly mix in the rest of the flour, a bit at a time.
- 6. Turn the mixture onto a floured cuttting board. Kneed the mixture on the cutting board for 9 -1 0 minutes.
- 7. Put dough in a greased bowl and allow it to rise until it has doubled in size about 1 - 1/2 hours.
- 8. Punch the dough down and shape - as a person, animal, bone, skull or oval.
- 9. Let the shaped dough rise for another hour.
- Bake ad 350 F for about 40 minutes.
- After baking, sprinkle with colored sugars. Decorate with crystallized fruit or gummy bears.Pan de Muerto recipe adapted from Festival of Bones found below.
- Skeleton-shaped Bread for the Dead by gicelamorales. Used under a Creative Commons License.
Festival of Bones / El Festival de las Calaveras
Ready to Try Some Delicious Dead Bread?
Pan de Muerto - Video Recipes
Video Recipe for Pan de Muerto
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Additional recipes for Pan de Muerto, Bread of the Dead for Dia de los Muertos.
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A recipe for Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) from azcentral.com.
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In Mexico, they bake pan de muerto--Day of the Dead Bread--to celebrate All Soul's Day.
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The sweet and buttery bread is topped with dough that's shaped to resemble bones. Like any yeast bread, it takes time to make, but with its exceptionally light and airy texture, it will not disappoint. Served with coffee or Mexican hot chocolate, it'
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In celebration of Mexico's Day of the Dead, this bread is often shaped into skulls or round loaves with strips of dough rolled out and attached to resemble bones.
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In Mexico, pan de muerto is made during the Day of the Dead holiday. Traditionally sweet and flavored with anise, the bread is ceremoniously placed on altars or brought to gravesites as offerings to those who have passed away.
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Pan de Muerto, "Bread of the Dead" In celebration of Mexico's Day of the Dead, this bread is often shaped into skulls or round loaves with strips of dough rolled out and attached to resemble bones.
Pan de Muerto Video Recipes Spanish Versions
Video Recipe - Pan de Muerto in Spanish
A three part video series in Spanish by netodeverdad on how to make Pan de Muerto.
Sharing Pan de Muertos
Sharing Pan de Muertos with the Dead
Pan de Muerto, Day of the Dead Bread or Bread of the Dead is the traditional sweet bread made for the Dias de los Muertos holiday celebration.
La Ofrendas (like the one pictured) are created to honor the memory of a family member who has died. These altars include many of the foods, beverages and other things that the deceased enjoyed in life.
Pan de Muertos or Bread of the Dead is also included on the elaborately decorated ofrendas, or altars as part of the adornments. Some sources say the dead bread offers nourishment for the departed souls on their journey home, where as others say pan de muertos is included to entice the souls to come home for a visit.
The traditional sweet bread is also brought to gravesites as offerings to those who have passed away and for the living to eat as they sit in the cemetery enjoying the company of the souls of their lost loved ones.
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Similar Egg Breads
Variants on the Egg Bread Recipe
Different cultures have created their own unique variants on the standard egg bread recipe or sweet dessert bread that uses flour, eggs, milk, butter and yeast, by using different spices and additives.
Pan de Muerto is an egg bread recipe baked for the Day of the Dead. In this recipe the spice anise is used and the bread is topped with a orange juice and orange zest glaze then coated with crystal sugars.
In Finland, my heritage, they use the spice cardamom in the egg bread recipe to make a sweet bread called Pulla or Finnish Cardamom Bread. Sometimes raisins are added and the bread is topped with sliced almonds. Pulla is a special Christmas treat that my Mom still bakes and turns it into different shapes, usually braids and rings.
With the English Hot Cross Buns there many different variants on the egg bread recipe, where the bread is baked into buns more than into bread. I've found several different recipes just within the ones done on Squidoo. In the Hot Cross Buns use a bit of both and add in more spices with cinnamon, cardamom, other spices like cloves, allspice, nutmeg and raisins or currents along with orange zest.
My Other Day of the Dead, Skeleton and Skull Lenses
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Does this look like a recipe you might try for Dia de los Muertos?