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Catholic Recipe: Pan de Muertos


  • 1 yeast cake
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/3 cup orange blossom water
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup anisette
  • Details

  • Prep Time: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: • • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 15+
  • Origin: Spain

Also Called: Bread of the Dead

All Souls Day, Day of the Dead in Spain and Mexico, crowds stream into the cemeteries, bringing candles, flowers and food. This recipe, Bread of the Dead, is typical fare.


Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and let it stand in a warm place.Sift the flour with the salt. Taking about half the flour, add the yeast, mix well, and allow to rise in a greased bowl in a warm place until double in bulk. Cream the butter with the sugar; add the egg yolks and the orange blossom water. Then add the remaining flour, the milk and anisette. Mix well and knead for a few minutes. Then add the egg whites, one at a time, kneading after each addition. Finally add the fermented dough and beat and knead until thoroughly mixed. Allow it to rise in a greased bowl in a warm place until double in bulk. Knead once more and divide into two portions. Remove a bit of the dough from each portion, enough to form two "bones." Shape the dough into round loaves and moisten the tops with water. Place the "bones" in the shape of a cross on each loaf and bake at 375° F. for about fifty minutes or until done. The loaves are usually covered with a light sugar glaze when baked.

Recipe Source: Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, David McKay Company, Inc., New York, 1951
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