Monday, October 22, 2012

Mexican Bread of the Dead Recipe / Receta de Pan de Muerto

Day of the Dead Bread pan de muerto
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.
Altar Dia de Muertos@Mexico in my kitchen
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.

           Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto
           Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto
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.
 Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto

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.

             Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto
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.
              Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto
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.
Shaping the bread
          Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto
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.
 Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto
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).

         Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto
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.

       Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto
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.

         Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto Day of the Dead Bread Pan de Muerto
10. Once your bread has completely cooled brush with the remaining butter and then dust with sugar.
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.

photo (43)
 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.


  1. Mely se que hiciste el pan de muerto con la receta de Norma, yo también me estoy animando a hacerlo este año, junto con la calabaza en tacha y los tamales en hoja de plátano de puerco y de calabaza con camarón. Gracias a Norma y a ti por reproducirla en tu blog


  2. Hay Mely que bonita entrada, me haz hecho muy feliz, un abrazo con mucho cariño gracias por invitarme, besitos.

  3. Amo el pan de muerto!, que ricoo!, yummi...ideal para estas fechas que me encantan, saludos!

  4. Thanks Mely and Norma for introducing another custom. Bread looks delicious.

  5. Muy bien, se ven deliciosos.
    Este fin de semana me voy a poner en marcha para hacer pan de muertos, para tenerlo listo en día de muertos.

    Un saludo

  6. Mely I love pan de muertos or pan dulce. I'm not sure if I'm making it this year but I still may. Great recipe, delicious looking pan, me gusta mucho!!:) thanks Mely and nice going Norma and thanks for the recipe.

  7. Hola Mely, increible el pan de muerto, me encanta... es una pena no estar en casa y preparar uno de ellos, lo bueno es que aquí en Oaxaca sobra, se me antoja uno de pan de yema, jeje


  8. Mely, I love your altar, the picture looks so serene. The recipe looks good but I didn't get to make it, maybe next year. Again, you are so good at giving the spot light to your friends, Norma, I'm sure, is happy. Take care

  9. En enero hice la Rosca de Reyes siguiendo tu receta, y como fue todo un éxito, decidí hacer el pan de muerto con tu receta también. ¡Quedó riquísimo! Muchísimas gracias por las explicaciones detalladas y claras, me encanta tu sitio. Muchos me preguntaron por la receta, así que voy a darles la dirección de tu blog :) Saludos

    1. Gracias Galle de la Suerte, por comentar tu experiencia con las recetas.


  10. This looks relish :-) in the ingredients what is GRS?

    1. Hello Eduardo.

      grs. meaning grams.

      Happy cooking!

  11. Muchas gracias por las recetas que nos compartes Mely, me fascinan. Este pan de muerto fue un exito en mi trabajo hoy que se los comparti aqui en Canada.
    Soy tu fielmseguidora :)

    1. Hello,

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment about the recipe. I'm so glad to know you enjoyed it as well as your co workers. Happy cooking!


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