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Bread of the Dead

Pan de Muerto, or "bread of the dead," is a sweet yeast bread filled with anise seed and orange, often used as an offering during dia de los muertos.

It also makes a delicious addition to your party spread.  Make this traditional Dia de los Muertos recipe this year.

  • 2 oranges
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon anise seed
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups flour, divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar, for the glaze

Zest the oranges with a citrus zester or a grater. Cut one of the oranges in half and juice it. Set the zest and juice aside. Place the butter, milk and water in a small saucepan. Heat on low until the butter melts. Remove from the heat. Combine 1 cup of flour, the yeast, sugar, salt and anise seed in a large bowl.

Pour the warm -- not hot -- milk mixture into the dry mix and beat with a wooden spoon for 1 minute. The dough will have the consistency of pancake batter at this point. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, then add them to the batter with about 2 tbsp. of the orange zest.

Add 1/2 cup flour and stir until combined. Keep adding flour, 1/2 a cup at a time, until it turns from a batter to a soft dough (about 3 to 3 1/2 cups of flour in all).

Dust a clean surface with about 1/8 cup flour. Turn the dough onto the surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is stretchy, adding more flour as necessary.

Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Flip the dough to coat with oil. Allow the dough to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until doubled.

Punch the risen dough down. Divide into two pieces, one large, one small, for making embellishments. Shape the large piece into a round loaf and place it on a greased baking sheet. Form the small piece into bone shapes, or any kind of embellishment you like, and place on top of the loaf. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 1 hour.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown, at 350 F.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar, the reserved orange juice and the leftover orange zest in a small saucepan to make the glaze. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Allow the glaze to cool for a few minutes, them brush it on the baked, cooled bread.

Find more party planning inspirations for Halloween Treats

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