Special Feature


Pan de Muerto, "Bread of the Dead"

In celebration of Mexico's Day of the Dead, this bread is often shaped into skulls or round loaves with strips of dough rolled out and attached to resemble bones.



  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 to 5-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole anise seed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs

In a saucepan over medium flame, heat the butter, milk and water until very warm but not boiling.

Meanwhile, measure out 1-1/2 cups flour and set the rest aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the 1-1/2 cups flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and sugar. Beat in the warm liquid until well combined. Add the eggs and beat in another 1 cup of flour. Continue adding more flour until dough is soft but not sticky. Knead on lightly floured board for ten minutes until smooth and elastic.

Lightly grease a bowl and place dough in it, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch the dough down and shape into loaves resembling skulls, skeletons or round loaves with "bones" placed ornamentally around the top. Let these loaves rise for 1 hour.

Bake in a preheated 350 F degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and paint on glaze.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest

Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, then apply to bread with a pastry brush.

If desired, sprinkle on colored sugar while glaze is still damp.


Days of the Dead


Another Day of the Dead Bread recipe.

Also visit the Global Gourmet's Mexico and main Halloween pages.

Check out Inside My Skull for artistic sugar skulls in the Days of the Dead tradition.

Symon 5x5

This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.

Modified September 2009

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