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11.12.2020 – Valeria’s Pan de Muerto Recipe for Día de Muertos

Pan de Muerto

In Mexican tradition, every year on November 2nd, Día de Muertos is celebrated. It is tradition to celebrate this day with a traditional sweet bread called Pan de Muerto. Growing up in Zacatecas, Mexico, my family and I would typically attend our religious mass in honor of the family members that have passed, we would go out “trick or treating” and eat a delicious pan de muerto with a tasty hot chocolate.

After arriving in Chicago, we were longing for a Mexican bakery that would sell pan de muerto to satisfy our cravings. We eventually found one, but their pan de muerto did not compare to the deliciousness of our childhood and on top of that it was quite expensive. Just recently, with the help of glorious internet and YouTube, I decided to look up recipes to make it myself. I finally gathered the energy to make it and it turned out surprisingly good for being my first time trying it! I can proudly say that I did it all by myself and surprised my family with the results. Now we are ready to celebrate Día de Muertos with a sabroso pan de muerto! Just like in the good ol’ days!

Here is the recipe:

4 cups of all purpose flour
¾ cup of sugar
3 yolks
3 large eggs
11 g of yeast
11 tablespoons of butter
½ cup of warm milk
The zest of an orange

Preparation for the sponge:
In a medium size bowl, pour the 11g of yeast, 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour, a tablespoon of sugar and the ½ cup of warm milk. Mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the bowl aside in a warm place for approximately 20 minutes or until you see a “sponge-like” consistency has formed and it is no longer liquidy.

Pan de muerto preparation:
– In a strong and uniform surface, pour the 4 cups of flour and create a sort of volcano crater-like dip in the middle.
– At the bottom of the volcano pour the ¾ cup of sugar surrounding it.
– In the little crater you just formed, pour the sponge you had previously set aside. Slowly, pour the eggs and yolks one by one into the crater and mix them with the sponge.
– At this point, get ready to knead your dough for more than 40 minutes. Start incorporating little by little more and more flour into the mix of the sponge and eggs.
– After a long process of incorporating all the flour and kneading the dough with as much strength as you can, add the 11 tablespoons of butter. It is easier if you cut it up in little squares. Keep kneading. After a few minutes, add the zest of an orange and knead your dough for a few more minutes until it no longer sticks to the surface or your hands.
– Place your dough in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap and put it aside for approximately an hour for fermentation. After that period of time your dough should now be double its original size.
– Place your dough on a surface and give it a baguette-like form. Then cut it up in however many pieces of pan de muerto you’d like, leaving one piece aside for the making of the bones. For each piece, give it a round form and place them in a tray with a baking sheet.
– For the bones, give them a cylindrical shape and roll them to give it a twisted shape.
– Place your bones on top of your pan de muerto creating an “X.”
– Preheat your oven to 350° F and leave your pan de muerto in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Once you see they are turning into a slight brown color, they are ready to be taken out of the oven.
– Place them aside so they cool down. Once they’ve cooled down, cover them with melted butter and sprinkle them with sugar. Mine came out looking like the ones in the video, see the picture on the left. Try it yourself

And you’re done! Your traditional pan de muerto is ready to be enjoyed!

Recipe source and pictures:

Jauja Cocina Mexicana YouTube Channel – Pan de muerto tradicional
Valeria M. M.