She Made/Ella Hace: Pan de Muerto

This month for She Made/Ella Hace, with my good friend Girlichef, there was really only one recipe we wanted to make this month...Pan de Muerto, a sweet, orange-flavored Mexican pastry made especially for Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Dia de Muertos is celebrated on November 2nd, but it's a 2-day celebration to honor our deceased friends and family members.  The celebration starts on November 1st with El Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day), dedicated to the memory of los angelitos (the little angels) who are no longer with us.

All throughout Mexico, beautiful altares (altars) are assembled and decorated with candles, flores de Cempazuchitl (marigolds), trinkets that belonged to the deceased and ofrendas (offerings) of the deceased's favorite foods and/or beverages, including Pan de Muerto.

My little altar for my abuelito is a simple one with just the Pan de Muerto and Chocolatito as ofrendas..  But I know that Pappy would be very pleased as these were two of his favorites.  My kiddies chose this picture of my grandpa with all of us for Pappy's altar, because they wish he was here with us to enjoy this delicious bread.  And so do I.

Te extraño, Papito! 

Pan de Muerto
(Brioche recipe adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day)

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 3-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • Brown sugar 

Heat the water and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter has melted.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, salt and orange zest.  Pour in the water and butter.  Stir with a wire whisk until the yeast has dissolved completely.  Whisk in the orange juice, eggs, honey, sugar and orange extract.  Add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until all of the flour has been incorporated.  Cover loosely with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let stand for about 2 hours or until double in size.  (No kneading neccesary!)

Refrigerate the dough and let chill for about an hour.  (This will help the dough "firm up", making it easier to work with.  Do not attempt to work with the dough without chilling it first.)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Generously grease a baking sheet with butter.

Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and remove about 1/3 of the dough to reserve for the "bones".  Shape the remaining dough into a circle, sprinkling with extra flour if the dough gets too sticky.   Place on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Divide the reserved dough into 7 equal pieces.  Shape 6 of the pieces of dough into a 4-inch rope.   Arrange on top of the dough.  Shape the last piece of dough into a ball and place on top of the "bones".

Brush the loaf (or loaves) with the beaten egg; sprinkle brown sugar all over loaf.  Bake at 350F until golden brown.

Enjoy with a steaming mug of Mexican Hot Chocolate.  (*Yields 1 large loaf or 2 medium loaves or 8 mini-loaves.  My kiddies loved the mini-loaves!) 

Be sure to check out Girlichef's gorgeous, sesame seed studded Pan de Muerto.

*Sorry for the poor quality of photographs.  I am once again without camera and was forced to use my son's Nintendo DSi. :P 


  1. Mmmm...I love the thought of sprinkling it with brown sugar...I think I may have to try that with my next loaf.  Your loaf sounds awesome...and I can't believe those are DSi picture..not too shabby, lol!  As always, I'm happy to be cooking with you, mi amiga :)

  2. I love this celebration , great bread Leslie!! great shots with the DSI!! thanks for sharing bookmarked!!

  3. Your photos are beautiful! And I love the she made/ella hace post! What a great idea!!!