In Mexico, pan de muerto is made during the Day of the Dead holiday. Traditionally sweet and flavored with anise, the bread is ceremoniously placed on altars or brought to gravesites as offerings to those who have passed away.
|Milk, 90 degrees F||6.5||184||3/4 cup||31.3%|
|Malt syrup||0.1||3||1/8 tsp||0.5%|
|Bread flour||10.4||295||2 cups + 2-1/2 Tbsp||50.0%|
|Yeast, instant dry||0.3||9||2-1/4 tsp||1.4%|
|Butter, soft||9.8||278||1-1/4 cups||47.1%|
|Bread flour||10.4||295||2 cups||50.0%|
|Orange zest||1.1||31||1 Tbsp||5.3%|
|Lemon zest||0.3||9||1 tsp||1.4%|
|Vanilla extract||0.2||6||1-1/4 tsp||1.0%|
|Cinnamon, ground||0.1||3||1 tsp||0.5%|
|Bread flour||3.3||94||2/3 cup|
|Egg wash||as needed|
|Butter, melted||8.0||170||1 cup|
|Vanilla sugar (see note)||8.0||170||1 cup|
1. To make the sponge, combine the milk and malt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the yeast, then add this mixture to the milk. Mix the sponge together by hand for 2 minutes to develop some gluten structure. Make sure all the ingredients are combined in a homogenous mass. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the sponge to ferment in a warm area for 30 minutes, until when lightly touched the dough springs back halfway.
2. To make the final dough, put the sponge in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs and about 3 oz of the soft butter (be sure that the butter is soft, but not melting). and mix for 1 minute on low speed to break up the sponge. (The sponge can also be broken up by hand, if necessary.) Add the flour and salt. Mix for 6 minutes on low speed, making sure to scrape down and flip the dough over in the bowl twice during the process. Mix for an additional 2 minutes on medium speed, making sure to scrape down and flip the dough over twice. The dough should have developed some gluten structure. Switch to the dough hook attachment. while mixing on medium speed, add 3 oz of the remaining butter in 2 additions, making sure to scrape down and flip the dough over before each addition. Reduce to medium speed, and add the sugar, orange and lemon zests, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute, then increase to high speed and mix for another minute, making sure to scrape down and flip the dough over. Add the remaining soft butter and continue mixing on medium speed for 2 more minutes. Scrape down and flip the dough over twice during this time. The dough should have full gluten development but still feel slightly tacky. Take the dough out of the bowl and cut off 9 oz to make the "bones." Place the remaining dough in a lightly oiled bowl large enough for it to double in size and cover with plastic wrap.
3. Put the 9 oz of dough for the bones back into the mixer, along with the bread flour for finishing, and mix on low speed until homogenous. Place the bone dough in a separate lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it at room temperature.
4. Allow the dough to rest and ferment in a warm place for 20 minutes, until when lightly touched the dough springs back halfway.
5. Put the main bread dough on a lightly floured work surface. Fold the dough over, put it back in the bowl, and cover for 20 minutes. Leave it at room temperature.
6. Put the bone dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 1.5-oz pieces. Keeping the dough pieces covered with a cloth while working, shape each piece into a 3-inch oblong. Roll the dough back and forth, applying slight outward pressure with the palms of your hands, until each piece is about 3 inches in length. Keep the dough pieces covered until ready to use.
7. Put the main bread dough back on a lightly floured work surface and divide it into two 23-oz pieces. Round each piece against the tabletop. Place each round on a separate baking tray lined with parchment paper. Flour the center of each piece and use your fingertips to make an indent about 2 inches in diameter.
8. Make the bones (you will need 3 for each loaf) by rolling each piece to about 6 inches in length, and then use your fingers to make 3 evenly spaced depressions along the pieces. Lay 3 bones over each loaf, so that they intersect in the center and divide the loaf into 6 equal sections (see photograph). Round the additional bone dough pieces. place a round of dough in the center of each loaf to cover where the 3 bones cross. Egg wash each loaf and cover lightly with oiled plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest and ferment in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, until when lightly touched the dough springs back halfway.
9. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
10. Egg wash each loaf again and transfer to the oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the trays, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.
11. Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes, then brush each piece with melted butter and roll in vanilla sugar. Allow the loaves to cool on a cooling rack.
Note: To make vanilla sugar, split and scrape 2 vanilla beans into 3 pounds of sugar. Mix together with a wooden spoon and let stand for 2 weeks. Use as you would regular sugar.
Another Pan de Muerto, "Bread of the Dead" recipe.
This page created March 2010
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