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Pan de Muerto

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Why I Love This Recipe

This bread is traditionally served on Day of the Dead; a Mexican holiday that honors friends and family who have passed on. My daughter asked me to make it last year, but she asked after work and there was no time, so I told her I'd make it this year. Here it is!

Ingredients You'll Need

4 TBLS anise seeds, divided
3/4 C water
1/2 C sugar
zest from 2 large oranges
1 TBLS plus 2 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
5 cups flour, plus extra for work surface
3/4 C unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 egg yolks, with one of the whites reserved and refrigerated, plus 2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vegetable oil


In a small saucepan, bring 2 tablespoons anise seeds and 3/4 cup water to a boil.

Remove from burner, cover, and steep for 10 minutes.

Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer, reserving the water and toss out the seeds.

In a mixer bowl, using paddle attachment, beat on low, the sugar and zest until sugar well mixed

Add remaining anise seeds

Add yeast & salt

Add 3 cups of flour

Mix well on low

Add anise water

Add melted butter mix well on low.

With mixer still on low, add 2 beaten eggs

And 4 egg yolks

Then add the remaining 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface

Knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Place dough into an oiled mixing bowl, and turn to coat with oil

Cover and place in a warm, draft-free place for 1.5 to 2 hours. until dough has doubled in size.

Until dough has doubled in size.

Put dough on lightly floured surface, punch down and divide into two equal pieces.

Pinch off about a 1/5 of each dough ball and decorate dough balls with bone designs. (my designs need a lot of work!!)

Place dough balls on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Lightly cover and place in warm, draft-free place until dough doubles in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Brush loaves with beaten egg whites and bake in oven, preheated to 375F, 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Rotate pan halfway through.

Cool bread on wire rack.

While bread is still warm, brush with glaze made from zest from one orange, 2 1/2 TBLS orange juice and 1/4 C sugar. Boil on stove until for 2 minutes.

Brush generously over warm bread.

Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.


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