Celebrate Dia de Los Muertos (Mexican Day of the Dead) by making this authentic recipe for Pan de Muerto. Made with fresh oranges, cinnamon, cloves and sprinkled with sugar, this delicious bread is a symbol of the important holiday and enjoyed by families throughout Mexico. Watch the video below to learn how.
- ⅔ cup whole milk
- 2 packets active dry yeast (4½ teaspoons)
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 navel or valencia orange
- 7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- 5 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
- 3-4 tablespoons cane sugar
Melt the ½ cup of butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. While it melts, zest the orange right into the saucepan then juice it into a measuring cup to measure out the juice. If you don’t quite have enough to measure out ⅓ cup then add enough water to make the measurement, if you’ve got more than ⅓ cup take a sip. Remove the butter from the heat as soon as it completely melts then add the juice.
Add the flour, sugar, salt, and spice mix to the bowl of a stand mixer, stir to combine, then add the yeast and milk mixture, and stir on the lowest speed while you pour in the juice/butter mixture followed by the eggs. Once it’s all combined turn the speed up by 1 and knead for 3 minutes.
Lightly grease a large bowl with a quick spray of non-stick cooking spray and turn the dough out into the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm draft free place to hang out and double in size.
Once the dough has risen punch it down and turn it out onto a cutting board then cut the round into 8 equal pieces. Set aside two chunks for the decoration then roll the other 6 into smooth round balls.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper then place 3 of the dough balls on each one. To make the skull and crossbones tear off golf ball sized chunks of dough from the reserved pieces, roll them into snakes with your hands then lay them on your counter or cutting board, spread open your fingers and roll with your fingertips to create the bone shape. Make two bones for each pan de muerto then take the remaining dough and roll it into balls about the size of a large marble and place on top of each crossbones.
Lightly cover each baking sheet with plastic wrap and let the pan de muerto proof until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Bake in a 350ºF oven for 20-25 minutes, one tray at a time, until lightly golden brown and you have a slight hollow sound when you tap on them. Let them cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet then working on one at a time, brush with the melted butter and immediately sprinkle with the sugar.