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Pan de Muerto Recipe

Pan de Muerto Recipe Activity

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A Taste of World Cultures

Pan de Muerto is a kind of bread traditionally baked for the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. Bake up a loaf of this sweet and savory bread to hone your child’s baking skills and explore the holiday traditions of another culture. Delicioso!

What You Need:

  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup water, heated to about 100-110 degrees
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups all purpose flour, unsifted
  • ½ teaspoon anise seed
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest

What You Do:

  1. Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted. Let the mixture cool.
  2. Have your child carefully stir in the sugar and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir the yeast and warm water together and let stand for 5 minutes to activate the yeast. This technique is called "proofing" and is used by bakers to test that their yeast is still good.
  4. Add the cooled milk mixture to the yeast and water. Make sure the milk mixture is not too hot (in excess of 130 degrees), or the yeast may die.
  5. Add the eggs and anise seed and stir well.
  6. Gradually add the flour and stir well until a ball of dough begins to form.
  7. Place the dough on a floured surface and have your child knead until it's smooth and elastic.
  8. Oil a large bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
  9. Have your child carefully press the air out of the dough. Place it back on the floured surface and have her knead it for a second time.
  10. Remove about 1/8 of the dough and set aside. Shape the remainder into a ball and place on a greased baking sheet.
  11. Using the reserved dough, have your child roll out two bone shapes. Place the bones in an X pattern on top of the ball of dough. Skulls are another traditional shape for the decorative dough, but are a little more difficult to form.
  12. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour.
  13. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35 minutes.
  14. While the bread is baking, prepare the glaze by bringing the sugar, orange juice, and zest to boil in a small saucepan. Boil for two minutes and remove from the heat.
  15. When the bread comes out of the oven, use a pastry brush to apply the glaze.

Dia de los Muertos is a holiday rich with symbolism and joyful celebration. Take some time to explore other traditions observed during this colorful holiday to make this activity a truly rich learning experience!

Updated on Mar 11, 2014
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See more activities in: Fifth Grade, Halloween
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