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Mexican Day of the Dead Bread Recipe (Pan de Muerto)

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  • Author: Maxine Dubois
  • Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Pan de Muerto, or Bread of the Dead, is a traditional Mexican bread made during the celebration of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It is a sweet, fluffy bread that is often decorated with bones and skulls made from dough.


  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk, warmed
  • 4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • 1/4 cup (200 grams) butter, diced
  • Melted Butter, for brushing
  • Topping:
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Pinch of sugar


  1. Put the flour into a large bowl and make a well. Sprinkle the sugar and yeast and pour in the milk into the well. Close the well by moving the flour over the milk and let it sit for an hour. 
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, except the melted butter, and mix in the bowl until the dough is shaped into a ball. Transfer to a clean floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes. Add the butter and knead again for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can add everything into a Kitchenaid Mixer with the dough hook attachment and knead for 10 minutes. Return to the bowl and cover. Let rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size. Keep in a warm place to rise quicker. 
  3. Grease 2 baking sheets with butter or oil. Divide the dough into three pieces. Take two of those pieces and roll them into tight balls, the size of a softball, then press them gently to flatten a bit. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  4. After one hour, take the remaining dough and divide into small balls and 8 of these pieces into long thin logs. 
  5. Combine the beaten egg, sugar and 1 tablespoon of water to make the glaze. Brush the loaves with the glaze. Take two of the logs and add them on top of the disc of dough to make an “X” shape. Take a little ball of dough and place it in the middle on top of the X. Brush more glaze on top. 
  6. Bake in the oven at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. While the bread is still warm, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. 
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Mexican