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Day of the Dead Bread |

This delightful bread for the dead probably won't make it past the living without being devoured. Pan de Muerto is traditionally baked in Mexico for Dia de los Muertos and enjoyed in many different forms, here we make a traditional orange flavoured variety. If you want to learn more about the history of Pan de Muerto check out our post on its history.

Prep time: 3.5 hours (incl. a lot of waiting)

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Makes: 1 loaf, enough for 3 people


250g plain flour

7.5g yeast

3g salt

75g sugar (plus a sprinkle for topping)

45g unsalted butter (plus a knob for glazing)

2 egg

100ml milk

Zest of 1/2 an orange

1/4 of an orange's juice

1. Dia de los dough

Dia de los put your 250g flour in a bowl. Add HALF (that's 37.5g) of the sugar, and all of the orange peel to the flour. Smell the zestiness and give it a mixy mixy to combine.

Add the 7.5g yeast to one side of the bowl. Add the salt on the other side. Don't go letting them be friends now, the salt will kill the yeast (the menace). Then add in the orange's juice. More zestiness appreciation.

Make a well in the centre and add the 30g butter, softened (if it's hard or melted, well that's not what we told you to do silly), add the egg. Gradually bring the ingredients together with your hands, in a stirring motion (like you're Edward whisk hands), incorporating everything together.

Next, add the milk (it should slightly warm, not fridge cold. Again, the yeast is a sensitive creature and you don't want to kill it, least you want pancake like bread) a little at a time, continuing to stir the flour mix (you might not need all the milk) until you create a beautiful smooth dough, which should look worthy to use as a pillow.

Then, tip in the rest of the sugar (37.5g). Knead it into the dough (this adds a crystalline texture to the dough).

Put the dough back in it's native home, the bowl, and cover with a plate, tea towel or cling film. Leave for 1 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in size.

2. Create the creepiness

Once your dough has risen up like the glorious phoenix it is, knock it back by kneading it a couple of times; make that dough feel inferior.

Split the dough into a small 2/3 and a large 1/3 (this is highly scientific baking maths). Shape the larger portion into a smooth circle, tucking the scruffy dough into the bottom of the dough ball, and lay to rest on a greased baking tray.

Back to the other third, split it again into three. But equally sized thirds this time. Add a generous dusting of flour to your work surface. Take one third and roll it gently into a stubby sausage (throw your mind back to those playdo years).

Once you have a sausage shape, spread three fingers out your fingers like a failed star trek sign. Place your figures at equal distances, leaving dough spaces in the middle and two bits of dough at either end. Get to rolling.

It should start to look something like the elder wand.

You want the end result to be long enough to drape fully across your dough round. When it is, do so.

Repeat this process with another one of the thirds. Drape it in the opposite direction to the other elder wand, sausage, bone shape (appetizing title, no?). Finally, roll your third third into a circle. Push down gently, with two floured fingers into the centre of you're bread, where the two dough longs meet.

Nestle your newly formed circle into this space. Your loaf should now look something like a spider, skull and cross bone hybrid.

Preheat your oven to 180°c. Cover your dough with a tea towel, and leave to prove for a further thirty minutes to an hour (depending on your patience). When proved, uncover and, with a beaten egg, egg wash your bread.

Bake for 30 minutes, checking it's cooked by tapping it's bottom- if it sounds hollow, it's done.

Leave to cool on a cooling rack. When it's cool to touch, melt some butter and give it another wash.

Onto the sticky dough sprinkle some more sugar.

Shake the loaf to get rid of any excess.And voila, it is ready to serve!

Dinkos y sinkos!

Food for Thought

Lizzy says: "I'm going to come clean and say that I made this bread for my family, but crept down stairs for several late night slices of it. The hint of orange flavour was lovely, and the sugar on the outside, which was granulated and crispy, made it really great. The process was a little bit convoluted and my bread broke into a serious sweat, which I have no way of explaining. As well, I baked it for twice the recommended time because the top looked eternally raw, so the bottom ended up quite crisp and a bit burnt. If I made it again I'd watch out for this. 7/10"

Kate says: "For this years 'Dia de los Muertos' we wanted to make something traditional. It was my week to choose something and I went a bit TOO traditional by finding a video in Spanish, with no subtitles, and no written recipe. I think it was the moustache that pulled me in...We both did some research and therefore our method was a mishmash of a few recipes. I definitely didn't cook mine for long enough - it was still a bit raw in the middle BUT, the subtle orange flavour and sugary outside( of the parts I could eat) were delicious. 5/10 but only because we (ok I...) stuffed up the recipe.."

6/10 Gasps


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