Pan de Muerto


  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting
  • cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoons anise seeds
  • teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup water at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon reserved
  • large eggs, plus 1 separated (3 all together)
  • Zest of 1 large orange


  1. Sift the two flours together.
  2. Combine 1 cup of flour mixture, 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons anise seeds, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/3 cup light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons sugar.
  3. In a small pan, combine the milk and butter. Cook just until the butter melts, add in the 1/4 cup of water and stir. With a thermometer, check that you achieve a temperature of 110ºF.
  4. Beat the milk mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Beat in the 2 eggs, orange zest and 1 more cup of flour mixture. Gradually add in the rest of the flour until dough forms.
  5. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and flexible. Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise in warm place for 2 hours.
  6. Punch dough down and using a pastry cutter, divide the dough into three equal pieces. Make two equal round loaves and transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  7. Take the last piece of dough and cut in into 4 equal parts. On a lightly floured surface, using your hands, roll each piece into a cigar shape, about 7 inches long. As you roll it, press down, making indentations into the dough. The idea is to make them look like bones. Take two sections and make a criss-cross design on top of each loaf. Where the dough meets, the center of loaf, build up the dough in the shape of a knob. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  9. Whisk together the reserved egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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