Día de los Muertos

This week in my spanish class we were assigned to present a fiesta and answer questions about the celebration. Our group chose, Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead.


Día de los Muertos, is a spanish holiday celebrated all over the world. Originating in Mexico, the origin of the festival can be  traced back over 2500 years ago.  During the Aztec times, this festival which was dedicated to goddess Michtecacihuatl, would last up to a month long. Today, the mexican culture shortened the span of the festival to only three days.  Each day has a different significance for who it dedicates. On October 31st, Día de los Angelitos, deceased children are honored for their time on earth. The following day, Día de los Muertos, is used to honor the adults that have passed. Family members may sweep around the deceased’s grave site. The last day, All souls day, is celebrated by visiting the cemetery and decorating the relatives tombs with favorite foods and flowers.

IMG_3049Families believe in offering gifts to the dead will encourage the dead’s souls to hear the families’ prayers and help the living with problems they may have. One offering, The pan de muertos, is a sweet yeast bread decorated with skulls and bones. I decided the best way to really describe the dish was to make it and share it with the class.

Pan de Muertos

  • Servings: 1 Large Loaf
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
  • Print
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 envelope (1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 5 1/4 to 5 1/2 cups all- purpose flour
  • sugar tablespoon
  •  red frosting
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon red food coloring (use less if using gel)
    • 3 Tablespoons milk
1. Place butter, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, orange zest, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
2. Scald milk by heating to just under boiling point, then pour over ingredients in the mixing bowl.
3. Stir until the sugar is dissolved; let cool.
4. Sir yeast and a pinch of sugar into 1/4 cup warm water; let stand until yeast is softened.
5. Beat whole eggs and egg yolks in a small bowl;reserve 2 teaspoons for glaze. Add water to thin out glaze.
6. Stir softened yeast and remaining beaten eggs into milk mixture in mixing bowl.
7. Stir enough flour into milk mixture to make a stiff dough. My dough needed about 5 1/2 cups of flour.
8. Using the dough hook, knead dough in kitchen aid mixer for 8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Add flour if needed.
9. Clean bowl and grease or spray with cooking spray.
10. Place dough in bowl and turn to grease all sides; cover with a dry cloth towel and let stand in a warm place free from drafts until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. You may also let the dough rise in the fridge overnight.
11. Punch down dough and turn out onto surface; let rest for a few minutes.
12. Grease or spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
13. Set aside about 1/3 cup of dough; shape remainder of dough into a smooth, round loaf and place on prepared baking sheet.
15. Divide the reserved dough into 3 equal pieces.
16. Roll two of the pieces into an 8 – 9 inch rope; shape ends of ropes to resemble knobs on bones then cross bone shapes over the top of the loaf, stretching to reach the bottom of each side.
17. Shape third piece of dough into a skull shape; moisten bottom with egg mixture and place in the center of the cross bones, pressing firmly.
18. Cover loaf loosely with towels and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
19. Preheat oven to 350°F; brush loaf with egg mixture.
20. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until browned; remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.
21. Whisk powdered sugar with milk. Set aside 2 Tablespoons of white frosting for the skull. Add the food coloring to the bowl and whisk. Decorate bread with both frostings.

 After cutting up the bread my hands were covered in “blood” and we all chowed down on our offering. Delicioso!

Al diablo la muerte, mientras la vida nos dure.

(To hell with death while we’re still alive.)


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