PAN DE MUERTOS (MEXICAN BREAD OF THE DEAD) – November 2 – Day of the Dead


  • ¼ cup half-and-half
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • ¼ cup warm water (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 1 ½ – 2 teaspoons anise seed
  • 3 cups, plus additional for kneading, all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1-2 teaspoons orange zest
  • Cooking spray
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice


  1. In a medium sized saucepan, over medium heat add the half-and-half and butter.  When the butter melts, remove from the heat and add the warm water.
  2. If you have a mortar and pestle pestle place 1 ½ teaspoons anise seed in the mortar and grind with the pestle. If you don’t then you will be using 2 teaspoons of anise seed.
  3. In a large bowl combine the anise seed, 1 cup flour, yeast, salt, ¼ cup sugar and mix.  Add the warmed half-and-half mixture,  eggs, and orange zest.  Combine.
  4. Add additional flour slowly, ½ cup at a time, while mixing until the dough is soft.
  5. Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.  If dough gets sticky, sprinkle with a dusting of flour then continue to knead.  
  6. Spray a medium sized bowl with cooking spray.  Place the dough in the bowl and lightly spray the dough with the cooking spray.  Cover with plastic wrap, or a kitchen towel, until the dough doubles in size, about 1-2 hours.. (Note: if the area is cold it will take longer)
  7. When it has doubled in size punch it down and shape it.  (I did the shape as a skull, but there are many different shapes that are used, just do an internet search)
  8. Lightly spray a baking sheet with the cooking spray and place the shaped dough on the sheet.  Cover with plastic wrap, or a kitchen towel.  Let it rise for 1-1 ½ hour(s) until it has doubled its shape again.
  9. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit then place the baking sheet in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove and place on a wire rack, with a baking sheet underneath.   
  10. While the bread is cooling, in a saucepan over high heat add the orange juice and ⅓ cup sugar.  Bring the mixture to a boil for 2 minutes, while stirring continuously.  Brush the mixture over the bread.

NOTE: I added 1 maraschino cherry, cut in half, and almonds for teeth, to accentuate the skull design, but that is not necessary.



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