Today’s guest is Norma, my blogger friend in México City, author of the blog “La Cocina de Norma”, and a great baker that so generously took the time to explain in detail this recipe in an easy step-by-step process. I am so glad to have her as a guest.
In México, November 1st and 2nd is when we remember our long-gone loved ones. One of our biggest traditional foods during this time is this “Pan de Muerto” (bread of the dead). It is sold several days previous to this date at local bakeries. This sweet bread shaped like a roll and topped with sugar also has some “bone decorations” made out of the same dough representing the bones of the dead. Some people will eat it while visiting the graves of the relatives long gone as well as other food that were their favorite while they were alive. If you want to see more pictures about this celebration check HERE.
This recipe makes 16 small rolls or 2 large breads.
500 grs. (4 cups) All Purpose flour
2 Tablespoons active-dry yeast
100 grs. sugar (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
80 grs. butter (at room temperature) + 30 grs. to brush the bread after baking.
80 grs. unsalted margarine (room temperature) plus more for bowl and pans.
4 large eggs, room temperature
Orange crest from 2 oranges
60 ml. warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon orange blossom water (or orange essence)
1 large egg, lightly beaten to brush the bread
Sugar to decorate the bread at the end.
Instructions are given to work the dough in the Electric Mixer but it can be done by hand.
1. Place the 4 eggs, margarine, salt and half of the sugar in the mixer bowl. Using the Hook attachment start working the dough for about 2 minutes. Note: I couldn’t find the hook attachment of my mixer but the hook is better for this type of job.Add the All purpose flour in small amounts alternating with the water. Add the dry active yeast and mix until well combined.
2. Continue now by adding one at a time the butter, the orange zest, the rest of the sugar and the orange blossom essence, mixing well after each addition until a soft dough forms.
3. Get the dough out of the mixer bowl and place onto work surface; knead until smooth, dusting work surface lightly with flour as needed if dough begins to stick. Knead for a couple more minutes. Coat the interior of a large bowl with margarine; transfer dough to bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can see the above picture where the dough is already raised.
4. 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 70grs. pieces or in two equal pieces if making 2 large breads. (Making sure to separate 300 grams of dough to form the decorative bones.)
Prepare 2 greased baking sheets, set aside.
5. 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, they should look flat like in the picture.
6. 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).
7. We take small portions of dough and roll in small logs putting a little pressure with the fingers to form the bones. Once our bones are already formed (we need 2 for each bread). Brush each roll forming a cross on top of each bun with a mix made out of the remaining beaten egg with 1 Tablespoon of water, once we marked the cross with the brush we place the bones as it shows in the above picture, cutting any extra dough.
8. And finally, with the leftover dough form small balls, varnish the center of the buns where the bones come together and put the ball there as shown in the picture. Cover baking sheets with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until buns are touching and doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
9. Add a pinch of salt to our mix of egg and water and brush the buns before placing in the oven.Transfer buns to oven and bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes, approximately, if making the small buns. If you are making the larger version the baking time will change a little. Remember that every oven is different, (when the bottom of the bread is golden it indicates that they are ready). Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
I hope you like the recipe and prepare it at home. Any questions, comments or complaints, I am at your service.
Have a great time baking.
By Guest Author: Norma Ruíz: She loves bread making, enjoys confectionary, likes to learn about other cuisines and she is glad to see her family happy when they eat the delicious meals that she prepares for them. In her blog you can find recipes from her own kitchen, her blogger friends, and online cooking forums, from which she learns something delicious every day, I hope that you all enjoy it.