Pan de Muerto


  • 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, more for dusting. 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. anise seeds
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup water at room temperature, plus 1 tsp. reserved. 
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 separated (3 all together)
  • 1 large orange for zest
  • 4 tbsp. fine sugar crystals


  1. Sift the two flours together. 
  2. Combine 1 cup of the flour mixture, 1 1/2 tsp. yeast, 1/2 tsp. of salt,  2 tsp. anise seeds, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, and 2 tbsp. 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 110° F. 
  4. Beat the milk mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Beat in the 2 eggs, orange zest, and 1 more cup of the 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 the dough rise in a warm place for 2 hours. 
  6. Punch the dough down and using a pastry cutter, divide the dough into three equal pieces. Make two equal round loaves and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  7. Take the last piece of dough and cut 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 the 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 350° F. 
  9. Whisk together the reserved eggs and 1 tsp. of water. 
  10. Brush the loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with fine sugar crystals. 
  11. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.