Día de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead is celebrated on the first two days of November. The first day commemorates children who have passed away and the second, everyone else. This holiday is a time to honor the loved ones we’ve lost by getting together and enjoying all their favorite foods, drinks and a treat called Pan de Muertos, which means bread of the dead. Light and fluffy, this sweet bread is perfumed with cinnamon and orange. It’s delicious with a good lashing of butter and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
My family indulges in discovering the customs of people from various nations. Living in California, it’s hard to miss the beauty of Mexican culture.
We set up a beautiful ofrenda in my grandmother Nina’s secretary seen in the background behind our beautiful bread. The top shelf honors grandparents, the middle is for aunts, uncles, friends and the bottom shelf for our furry or feathered friends. We’ve found beautiful items like sugar skull salt & pepper shakers, (like these), colorful candles in glass (like these), handmade paper garlands called papel picado (like these) and fairy lights. We’ve included beautiful photos of each loved one as well as flowers, books, trinket boxes, handcarved wooden crosses, anything that had meaning to them. Our ofrenda stands in our dining room where we can remember our loved ones all year at the most important family time, around the dinner table.
Several years ago, Daisy and I spent a fun afternoon, working on a make-up tutorial for Día de Los Muertos. This year, we cranked up the oven for a delicious way to honor this festive tradition.
Pan de Muertos
Makes: 6 individual bread rolls
Prep: 25 mins
Rise: 2 hrs
Bake: 30-35 mins
2 1/4 tsp/1 sachet/7g active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm milk (100–110F or 38-43C)
1 Tb sugar
2 Tb flour
4 1/2 cups of flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, @ room temp
3 Tb orange zest
4 medium or 3 large eggs, @ room temp
3 Tb butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
Sugar for dusting
Make starter by combining yeast, warm milk, 1 Tb sugar and 2 Tb flour.
Cover and set aside in a warm place for 10-15 mins, til double in size.
Combine the rest of dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Add butter, then orange zest and finally the eggs.
Knead 15-20 mins til dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
If you’re kneading by hand, it may take longer.
Lightly grease another clean bowl, transfer dough, cover and set aside in a warm place to rest 1 hour, til double in size.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured, clean surface and shaped into a log.
Cut into 7 sections.
Cut 6 into 1/2.
Shape 6 into small balls, pulling the edges toward the center and tucking them in.
Flip over and place 2-3 inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
With the other halves, tear off a knob and roll into balls. These represent the skull of teh departed. Set aside.
Cut the remaining into halves so you have 12. Roll each into a log and make 3 equally spaced indentations. These represent the bones of the departed.
Drape 2 over each dough ball and crown with the skull knob.
Cover and let rise another hour.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Transfer the bread rolls into the hot oven and bake 30-35 mins.
Remove from oven and aside while you make the glaze.
Combine butter, sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan.
Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer.
Remove from heat and brush over rolls.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Enjoy with lashings of butter and a good cup of coffee or hot chocolate.