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Pan de Muerto

This recipe is for traditional style Pan de Muerto. The bread, is buttery and the egg yolks give a beautiful rich color and flavor to the bread. Anise and orange zest give this bread a unique aroma and flavor. The texture is soft and with a strong crumb to hold up to one of we mexicans favorite thing to do: "Dunking the bread in to a cup of chocolate caliente-hot-cocoa" ~Enjoy!


Cuisine Mexican
Total Time 2 hours


  • 1 lb /500gr. Unbleached all purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup more for dusting and kneading
  • 3/4 cup/200gr. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup/200gr. Butter, room temp and cut in small chunks
  • 1/2 cup/125gr. whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons dry active yeast, equivalent to 1 7gr.package.
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 2 yolks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water/ extract de flor de azhar
  • 1 teaspoon ground anise seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground mexican cinnamon
  • 1 the zest of one small orange


  1. DAY ONE:

    1.Measure and gather all your ingredients.

    2. Start by warming the milk just about luke warm, add a teaspoon of sugar and sprinkle the yeast until blossom. About 10-15 minutes. The yeast should look foamy and creamy.

    3.Meantime, on a clean flat surface make a “wheel” with the flour using your bowl to make a perfect circle.

    4.Sprinkle the sugar around the flour wheel.

    5. In the center add the eggs, egg yolks, spices, extracts, orange zest, anise, cinnamon, salt.

    6.Check on your yeast and if its ready,looks "foamy and creamy" add it to the center of the wheel.

    7.Mix all these ingredients with a fork.

    8.With your hand in a spider position, start incorporating little by little the flour from the edges. Be careful and gentle not to break the flour ring.

    9.Start in circular motions all around the inner flour circle until you have fully incorporated all the flour and all the sugar.

    10.Now using both hands start kneading into the butter. At this point you can decide, mixing your dough by hand, or using a mixer. I prefer kneading the dough by hand because the warm of your hands softens the dough as you knead, making it really smooth and shiny. Knead for about 20-25 minutes, until dough forms a smooth ball. If using your mixer, place a dough hook and mix for about 10-15 minutes. Both routes work is just about preference and time. The key to making a good dough is to feel the dough. That’s why I prefer to mix it by hand, I can tell when its ready and avoid over mixing. You can add up to 1/2 cup more flour if needed, if after a bit of kneading it feels to sticky, sprinkle 1/4 cup and knead, until your dough feels soft, smooth, and tender. This dough is very easy to make and as soon is the right texture you will know. It will feel not sticky and it looks a bit shiny, as you can see on the last picture below. So be patient, give the love and knead gently and confident that everything will come out at the right time.

    11.Once the dough is ready grease the inside of a bowl with butter and place the dough ball, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel and place it in the refrigerator over night. I’ve tried different methods and the bread did not come out as tender and buttery as traditional good bread. 10-12 hours over night is great, the dough develops flavor and texture.

    DAY TWO:

    For the Egg wash:

    1 egg slightly beaten, or those egg whites you saved when making the dough!

    a dash of heavy cream

    For the Glaze:

    1 teaspoon flour

    1/4 cup milk

    1 egg

    For sprinkle the bread

    1/2 -3/4 cup of sugar

    1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon


    Take the doug out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, about 1-2 hours, before shaping.

    1. Punch your dough and reshape dough kneading gently and briefely.

    2. Dust with flour a clean surface and cut dough into 4 equal parts.

    3. Shape each part in circular motions. Until you have formed a round ball. Place it into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

    4. Shape 3 parts and save one to make the bones and skulls for the tops. Divide the 4th ball into 9 stripes and 3 small 1” balls equal sizes.

    5.With your fingers make a little cilinder and gently pressing in between your fingers make the bones. (see picture above)

    6.Proceed to place the bone stripes on top of the bread as picture above.

    8.Cover the tray with a piece of plastic wrap dusted with flour to prevent to stick. Let the bread rise for a second time for about 30 minutes, or until double in size. When proofed, brush the the bread lightly with egg wash.

    9. Preheat the oven at 375F / 190C once the bread is in the oven lower it to 350F/ 175C and bake for 25-30 minutes.

    10.Remove from oven and quickly brush them with the flour glaze and sprinkle with sugar/cinammon mixture, place the bread bake in the oven and bake for 5-7 more minutes. Pull them out of the oven check the center for doneness. Cool them on a rack.

    Note: If you don't, want to use the glaze, omit the egg wash and the glaze step. Bake the bread with out egg wash for 25-35 minutes. When bread comes out of the oven and cool slightly, brush the bread with melted butter and sprinkle the bread with the sugar and cinnamon mixture, until fully covered. 

    You can plan ahead and make the dough the night before, over the weekend. Wake up Sunday or Saturday and shape and bake your bread in the morning and have it for breakfast with a cup of warm chocolate ~ hot-cocoa, a coffee, or cafe de olla.

    Enjoy your well deserved Pan de Muerto and Celebrate life!