This sweet bread is prepared as part of the traditional celebration of Día de Muertos (2nd of November, Day of the Dead) in Mexico. Its classic presentation is powdered with sugar, however there are other recipes that call for sesame seeds, it depends on the location and tastes.
Is not a quick recipe, but is easier than it seems and the result is completely worth it and satisfying to know you made it yourself, completely homemade. Let me know if you try it out!
You can find the original recipe here (in Spanish and with video demonstration)
Mexican Day of the Dead Bread
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 1/2 tsp dry instant yeast
- 2 Tbsp orange blossom tea or pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 200 g butter (out of the fridge for at least 1hr, not melted)
- 2/3 cup milk
- Dissolve yeast with the orange blossom tea (in case of using it, if using vanilla extract skip this step and mix with milk)
- Mix in a bowl the dry yeast and add 1/3 cup of the milk (half of the total we need) and ½ cup of the total flour. The mix should be sticky. Leave to rest in a warm place for 30 mins or until has risen a bit.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the 3 ½ cups of flour left, mix with the sugar, salt and orange zest using the hook of a stand mixer for 30 secs. Add eggs (one by one slowly), the 1/3 cup of milk left and the yeast mix.*If you chose to use vanilla extract, this is the time to add it to the mix.
- Mix with the stand mixer in low speed until the dough starts to incorporate. Raise to middle speed and add the butter slowly without stopping the mixer. The dough will be very sticky but do not add more flour. Continue mixing for 40 mins until the dough is soft and doesn’t stick to the walls of the bowl anymore.*If the dough is still very sticky after mixing 35 minutes, add a bit of flour but not more than 1/3 of a cup.
- Grease a bowl with oil and place the dough inside. Cover with a wet towel and let rest for at least 1 hr in a warm place or until has risen double the size.
- After it has risen, take out the dough and place on a table. Divide in three equal parts. To each portion cut 1/3 and will be used to decorate the top of the bread.
- Roll the big part of each portion and shape it in a ball and place on a tray (greased or with waxed paper). Place each ball with enough distance between since they will rise again.
- Powder with enough flour the reserved portions to decorate (the 1/3 of each mentioned on step 5) and knead them to shape long sticks. Fold each in half to find the middle and cut a little portion of the tips to make a little bowl which will be at the very top center of each bread (will be like the head of the corpse).
- Extend the two sticks on the table using three right fingers (separated) and two left ones, kneading in a way that will shape the “little bones” (as the backbone).
Place the two sticks (bones) forming a cross on top of each ball placed on the tray as well as the reserved little balls (heads).
- Let rise again (shaped) covered with a wet towel again for another hour or so.
- Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Before baking, add some water to the center of each bread to “glue” the little ball (head).
- Bake for 30 to 40 mins. Take out of the oven and let cool for about 30 mins. and brush melted butter or oil and powder immediately with the granulated sugar.
Serve as dinner, with hot chocolate and enjoy.
Feliz Día de Muertos!
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