Pan de Muerto: Bread of the Dead

Pan de Muerto: Bread of the Dead

Prep Time

210 minutes

Cook Time

35 minutes


12 people

A traditional staple of the holiday, Pan de Muerto, also known as the bread of the dead, is an aromatic orange and anise sweet bread that will fill your house with wonderful scents as it bakes.

This sugar topped loaf has a unique taste and is frequently seen across tables and altars during the holiday.

In celebration and honor of Dia de Los Muertos, The Food Channel has created our take on some traditional dishes to fuel your own celebration.

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  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons whole anise seed
  • 6 cups white flour
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 packet dry yeast

For finishing

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar


  • 1 In a bowl, combine butter, sugar, anise seed and orange zest; mix until well integrated.
  • 2 Combine warm water, eggs and yeast together, whisk, and integrate into the sugar and butter mixture. Add flour a cup at a time, integrating well between cups.
  • 3 Once well integrated, remove from bowl and knead for two minutes.
  • 4 Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth, let it rise in a warm, dry area for 1½ hours.
  • 5 Remove dough from bowl, roll out into a log approximately 12 inches in length and six inches across. Cut off the ends approximately an inch in, set aside.
  • 6 Cut the dough into four equal parts; roll into balls. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet approximately six inches apart.
  • 7 Cut the two dough remnants from the ends in half, this should leave you with four pieces of dough. Cut about an inch off of each on the tip and sit aside.
  • 8 Take the four cut remnants halves and roll each of them out between your fingers to make the decoration on top of the bread, it will create large bumps or “bones” between your fingers, place them on top of the bread in an X pattern.
  • 9 Once each bread has the X on top, take the four tips you cut earlier and roll them into small mounds, and place them at the center of the X.
  • 10 Cover with a damp cloth and allow another hour to rise.
  • 11 Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • 12 Once the hour is up, remove the cloth and bake in the middle rack for 35 minutes.
  • 13 Remove and brush with melted butter and top with granulated sugar.
  • 14 Once cooled, shake off excess sugar and serve.



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