Pan de Muerto


 Prep Time : 45 Minutes | Cook Time : 35 Minutes | Total Time : 5 hours | Difficulty : Bread

Hello my lovelies! I love Dia de Los Muertos. I find the aesthetic of it beautiful and interesting. The meaning of it is sweet and joyous. And I love the flavours of all things Mexican. So it was odd that I have never made Pan de Muerto before. Since it is my life’s work to make (and eat) all the breads in existence it’s time to correct this oversight. I took my cues from Fany Gerson and her fabulous book My Sweet Mexico. I pared down the recipe to make it more manageable at home. Pan de Muerto is a sweet enriched bread with a lot of eggs and butter. Brioche style. It’s flavoured with orange and orange blossom and decorated with bones fashioned from the dough. Pan de Muerto is made to honour those who are no longer with us. What a delicious way to remember them. This is best made using a mixer with a dough hook as the dough is very soft and sticky. Orange blossom can be seem very overwhelming but trust me (and Fany) it is balanced by the orange zest and is much milder once baked. The final bread is buttery and soft with the perfect note of fruit and floral. Utterly delicious. You will need about 30 minutes to get all the initial bits done before the dough is left to rise.

Mix the orange blossom water and warm milk together with a pinch of the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over it and leave to froth. In the bowl of a standing mixer combine the flour, salt, orange zest and remaining sugar.

When the yeast is active and happy add to the dry ingredients along with the eggs and vanilla (if using).

Mix to a dough and knead for 2 to 3 minutes.

With the mixer running add the butter a little at a time until it’s all combined.

It will look gross and lumpy for a while. Be patient.

Once it comes together knead/mix on low speed until the dough is no longer sticky on the surface and comes away from the sides of the bowl in a soft ball. It will take up to 10 minutes.

If you get to 10 minutes and it’s still sticky add a tablespoon or two of flour and mix for a few minutes more. Because eggs can be a slightly different size you may need that extra bit of flour. Be sure that it’s actually sticky. Touch the dough – it should be soft but won’t actually stick to you.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and leave to rise until doubled in size.

This can take a while as well. The dough is laden with butter and sugar and eggs which can slow the yeast down a bit. It took 2 hours for me but would be faster in a warm kitchen.

Press the air out of the dough. It’s time for shaping and if the dough is a soft and hard to work it can help to chill the dough for 20 minutes to firm it up. The butter in the dough will harden a bit and make it easier to handle. Whether you need to do this will depend on how warm your kitchen – and therefore your dough – is.

Cut off about 100 grams of the dough – about the size of a small lemon and set it aside.

Shape the rest of the dough into a neat round. Using both hands rotate the dough on a clean surface using the edges of your hands to tuck the dough under.

Place the round onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Press the top down to flatten it slightly. It should be about 7 inches across.

Take your extra bit of dough and divide it into three pieces – one should be smaller – about the size of a gumball. Roll the smaller one into a ball and pop it on a little piece of baking paper to rise on it’s own. Mine was a bit big. Use your judgement.

Form bones out of the two other pieces. Roll them out into sausages making sure there is a lumpy bit at each end.

Lay the bones in a cross on the top of the loaf. Take each bone-end between the thumb and forefinger of both hands and roll the end under while pulling gently to the sides. This will spread the knobby bit out into a more bone-looking shape.

Cover the loaf loosely with a damp tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size. Sneak the extra ball under the corner of the towel. While the dough is rising heat the oven to 180C (350F).

When the loaf is ready to bake brush the underside of the small ball of dough with water and gently press onto the top of the loaf.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes and check the colour. This bread will darken fairly fast because of the sugar and eggs. When the loaf is dark golden brown cover it with foil and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes. You will need to bake for about 35 minutes all up.

Remove the loaf from the oven and leave on the tray for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

While the loaf is still fairly hot on the rack liberally brush the surface all over with melted butter. Make sure you get into all the fiddly bits. Quickly sprinkle sugar all over the surface so it sticks to the butter.

Cut wedges and enjoy a sweet fragrant remembrance of loved ones no longer with us.

Like this recipe? Pin for later or Print for right now:

Pan de Muerto


Prep Time : 45 mins | Cook Time : 35 mins | Total Time : 5 hours | Difficulty : Bread | Makes : 1 medium loaf

A sweet enriched bread scented with orange to honour loved ones no longer with us.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup (80 mls) whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • 1 teaspoon active dried yeast
  • 350 grams bread flour, plus a little extra if needed
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 cups (50 grams) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine grated orange zest
  • 2 eggs
  • seeds of half a vanilla bean (optional)
  • 7 tablespoons (100 grams) soft unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

To decorate

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

– If using metric cups, reduce volume measures by 1 tablespoon for every cup of dry or liquid ingredients – 

Equipment:

  • Standing mixer with a dough hook
  • Greased baking sheet

Directions:

Mix the orange blossom water and warm milk together with a pinch of the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over it and leave to froth.

In the bowl of a standing mixer combine the flour, salt, orange zest and remaining sugar.

When the yeast is active and happy add to the dry ingredients along with the eggs and vanilla (if using).

Mix to a dough and knead for 2 to 3 minutes. With the mixer running add the butter a little at a time until it’s all combined.

It will look gross and lumpy for a while. Be patient.

Once it comes together knead/mix on low speed until the dough is no longer sticky on the surface and comes away from the sides of the bowl in a soft ball. It will take up to 10 minutes.

If you get to 10 minutes and it’s still sticky add a tablespoon or two of flour and mix for a few minutes more. Because eggs can be a slightly different size you may need that extra bit of flour. Be sure that it’s actually sticky. Touch the dough – it should be soft but won’t actually stick to you.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and leave to rise until doubled in size. This can take a while as well. The dough is laden with butter and sugar and eggs which can slow the yeast down a bit. It took 2 hours for me but would be faster in a warm kitchen.

Press the air out of the dough. It’s time for shaping and if the dough is a soft and hard to work it can help to chill the dough for 20 minutes to firm it up. The butter in the dough will harden a bit and make it easier to handle. Whether you need to do this will depend on how warm your kitchen – and therefore your dough – is.

Cut off about 100 grams of the dough – about the size of a small lemon and set it aside. Shape the rest of the dough into a neat round. Using both hands rotate the dough on a clean surface using the edges of your hands to tuck the dough under.

Place the round onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Press the top down to flatten it slightly. It should be about 6 inches across.

Take your extra bit of dough and divide it into three parts. Roll one of these into a ball and pop it on a little piece of baking paper to rise on it’s own.

Form bones out of the two other pieces. Roll them out into sausages making sure there is a lumpy bit at each end.

Lay the bones in a cross on the top of the loaf. Take each bone-end between the thumb and forefinger of both hands and roll the end under while pulling gently to the sides. This will spread the knobby bit out into a more bone-looking shape.

Cover the loaf loosely with a damp tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size. Sneak the extra ball under the corner of the towel. While the dough is rising heat the oven to 180C (350F).

When the loaf is ready to bake brush the underside of the small ball of dough with water and gently press onto the top of the loaf.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes and check the colour. This bread will darken fairly fast because of the sugar and eggs. When the loaf is dark golden brown cover it with foil and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes. You will need to bake for about 35 minutes all up.

Remove the loaf from the oven and leave on the tray for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

While the loaf is still fairly hot on the rack liberally brush the surface all over with melted butter. Make sure you get into all the fiddly bits. Quickly sprinkle sugar all over the surface so it sticks to the butter.

Cook’s Notes:

  • Do allow yourself a bit of time so you don’t panic about getting finished – rising the dough can take a while depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  • Don’t worry if it’s a bit wonky on top – bread does what it does when it bakes.

 – This bread is best eaten the day it is baked or the day after – 

Adapted from My Sweet Mexico by Fany Gerson.

© 2017 The Winsome Baker. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Pan de Muerto

  1. Yay another fellow Pan de Muerto baker! I’ve made this a few years now for Dia de los Muertos. It’s just the best! Yours looks very yummy 🙂

Leave a Reply