As we are in Mexico, we have the gift to observe many traditions. Weddings, Semana Santa, and Dia de los Muertos to name a few.
As I type this it is Halloween in the states, so this year, we thought we would share what we have learned about Dia de Los Muertos.
Dia de Los Muertos is commonly celebrated from the 31Oct to 2Nov. These dates will flex or extend depending on the region you are in.
It is a misconception the holiday is a dark and somber celebration. It is nothing but that. It is a celebration of the dead. The most prominent symbol is the Caracas and Calaveras, or skeletons and skulls. From parades to decorations, even to the food, images of bones are everywhere.
Cities will have parades with dancers, musicians, and people dressed up as skeletons. One of the most popular figures to dress up as is La Calavera Catrina (The Elegant Skull). This figure resembles an upper-class female, showing that death, rich, and poor are the same.
The prancing and dancing in through the streets show the belief that spirits return to be with their families. The festivals and parades are not scary or somber. It celebrates death as a natural part of the human experience. It is rather joyous, full of good memories, good food, and love.
Part of the celebration is decorating graves and home altars to honor and remember the dead, the loved ones that have passed.
Food is also a large part of the celebration. Commonly is Dia de Los Muertos Pan, Day of the Dead Bread. On top of the bread, as is most of the foods for this celebration, are representations of bones. The idea is the look of a pile of bones atop the bread.
So this year, we would like to attempt to make Dia de Los Muertos Pan. We look forward to enjoying this lightly sweet flavored and eggy bread together.
the recipe we followed:
yields 1 7” round loaf
1/2 c milk
1/4 c water
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 – 3 c unbleached flour, divided
1/4 c sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one packet)
1 1/2 tsp ground anise
1 tsp salt
2 large egs
1 egg, lighten beaten for egg wash
1 small orange (1/4 c orange)
1/4 c + 1 Tbsp sugar
In a small saucepan, heat the milk, water, and butter together until the butter has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a shallow wide bowl to cool to 80-90F
In a large bowl, mix together 1c flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and anise. Add the cooled milk mixture and whisk until combined. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth.
Add the remaining 1 1/2 – 2 C flour gradually, mixing until each addition is fully incorporated before adding more. Add just as much flour as you need for a soft, but workable dough to form.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes, adding any remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the counter. Knead until th enough is smooth and soft, but doesn’t stick to your hands.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover it with a damp tea towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled inbuilt, roughly 1 hour.
Cut 3 small portions (about 1.5 ounces each) and 1 smaller portion (about .5 oz) from your dough. Shape the 3 smaller portions into a rope that is roughly 6-7 inches long and has 4 bulges. These are your bones.
Place your large ball on a flour-dusted baking sheet. Brush it with the egg wash, then layer the bones across the top. Then lay your bones across your formed ball. Shape the smaller portion into a small ball, to top over the center, on top of bones. Brush it with the egg wash all over.
Let the dough rise again in a warm and draft-free place until puffy and nearly doubled, about 30-45 minutes. Near the end of the rising time, move your oven rack to the lowest position. The bread gets tall and having extra space over the top of the break in the oven will help it not darken so quickly. Preheat your oven to.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until it sounds hollow when tapped. Internal temperature should read 170F. If the crust looks like it is getting too brown for your liking towards the end of baking, you can tent the bread with aluminum foil.
While baking the break, make the glaze. Heat 1/4 c of sugar with the zest of juice of a small orange. Bring mixture to a simmer for 2-3 minutes. If needed, strain any pulp.
After the break is baked, cool for 10 minutes, then brush warm loaf with orange glaze and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Let the bread cool slightly before slicing.
Enjoy, Buen Provecho
The recipe we used is from https/www.curiouscruisiniere.com/day-of-the-dead-bread/