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Pan de Muerto - Bread of the Dead

Raven Higheagle


This bread is slightly sweet and used on the altars of loved ones during "Day of the Dead" festivities. The dough is formed into bone-like shapes to decorate the top of the loaf before baking it


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Serves 6 to 8
3 Hr
40 Min


  • 1/2 c
    butter room temperature
  • 1 1/4 c
    water which should be very warm, but not hot
  • 6 c
  • 2 pkg
    dry yeast
  • 1 tsp
  • 3 tsp
    whole anise seed
  • 2 Tbsp
    orange zest
  • 3/4 c
  • 4 large
    eggs room temperature
  • ·
    glaze see below

How to Make Pan de Muerto - Bread of the Dead


  1. In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar, anise, salt and 1/2 cup of the flour.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the eggs and the water.
  3. Add the egg/water mixture to the first mixture and add in another 1/2 cup of the flour.
  4. Add in the yeast and another 1/2 cup of flour. Continue to add the flour 1 cup at a time until a dough forms.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Knead on a floured surface for about 1 minute. Cover with a slightly damp dishcloth and let rise in a warm area for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  6. Bring out dough and punch it down.

    Remove about 1/4 of it and use it to make bone shapes to drape across the loaf (see below.)

    Or divide the dough into smaller pieces to create other bone shapes. Let the shaped dough rise for 1 more hour.
  7. Bake on a baking sheet for 30 minutes for smaller loaves and up to 45 minutes for larger loaves.
  8. BONES:

    The most common bone decorations are very simple. Sometimes it's just a matter of forming ball shapes and pressing them into the loaf in a line. You could also take a piece of dough, roll it into a long cylinder and place a ball at each end. You can get much more detailed if you like, but even a slightly "knobby" looking loaf will get the idea across.
  9. GLAZES(After glaze is applied you may decorate with additional colored sugar.)

    Bring to a boil- 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup fresh orange juice. Brush on bread and then sift some additional sugar over the top.

    Mix 3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate and 1/3 cup sugar with 2 egg whites. Brush on bread during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

    Bring to a boil- 1/4 cup piloncillo, 1/4 cup sugar, 2/3 cup cranberry juice and 2 tablespoons orange zest. Brush on bread after bread has cooled.

Printable Recipe Card

About Pan de Muerto - Bread of the Dead

Course/Dish: Sweet Breads
Main Ingredient: Flour
Regional Style: Mexican
Other Tags: For Kids, Heirloom

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