Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) #DiadelosMuertos

Have you ever celebrated Dia de los Muertos?  The year before I left Tucson, Arizona, we went to the Dia de los Muertos parade.  It is a HUGE celebration!  Seriously, the colors, the paint, the costumes, the flowers, the candles…..they are every where, and sooooooo beautiful!!!

Our first home in Tucson we lived a few blocks away from a shrine that was the only shrine dedicated to the soul of a sinner, called El Tiradito.  Every night people will light candles, and say prayers.  Good or bad, los muertos are celebrated in some way.

Dia de los Muertos parade in Tucson, Arizona

Just to give a little scoop on what Dia de los Muertos is: “Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.”

This is a traditional bread made to celebrate muertos, you can shape it into skulls, bones, or individual loaves.  When the bread is baked, you can then give it the color it deserves.  Every celebration deserves color!

Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead) #DiadelosMuertos

I decided to make this bread a few weeks ago.  What inspired me was a new-to-me author I found.  I am currently on her third book.  For the first two that I read, she shared a lovely story, along with several unique recipes.  I have 20 recipes bookmarked, and ready to be made soon!

When I looked more into this bread, it was shared that a round loaf is made.  On that round loaf you put decorations, and a round ball on the top.  So to keep with tradition, I did the best I could to create a round loaf with fun decorations.

Now I don’t have a shrine nearby, or even at my house.  So I had fun kinda creating one.  A shrine does not only include candles or pictures.  A shrine for some families can include favorite food, piece of clothing, or favorite mementos!

Pan de Muerto ( Bread of the Dead) #DiadelosMuertos

This recipe is from Barbara O’Neal, the book is call The Lost Recipe for Happiness.  I really enjoy this recipe, and the flavor of anise that is subtle with each bite.

Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead)

4 hrPrep Time

40 minCook Time

4 hr, 40 Total Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe


For Bread:
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup water, just warmer than body temperature
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp sugar
2 packages dry yeast
5 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp whole anise seed
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
For Glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp orange zest


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Measure milk and salt into a large glass measuring cup, and drop in a stick of butter cut into chunks, heat in microwave until milk is scalded and butter melts, let stand for 10 minutes. (I heated milk, salt, and butter over medium heat stove top.)

Measure warm water (water should be about 120 degrees Fahrenheit) into small bowl and stir 1 Tbsp flour and 1 tsp sugar into warm water, sprinkle yeast on top and let dissolve for a few minutes.

In kitchenaid mixer or by hand: While yeast is resting, measure 1 1/2 cups of flour into a bowl, mix in anise seed and sugar, mix together well, then add milk/butter mixture and mix well, next add yeast mixture and mix vigorously until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Then stir in remaining flour 1 cup at a time until dough is soft and not sticky.

Turn out dough on counter and knead well for 10 minutes or so, until dough is smooth as a babies bottom.

Lightly grease bowl, put dough in bowl and lightly cover all sides with the grease, then cover dough with a damp towel, sit in a warm area to let rise until almost double in size about 1-2 hours.

Punch dough down and shape into loaves that look like bones or skeletons, let rise for one hour.

Bake for 40 minutes depending on oven.

For glaze: Mix sugar, fresh squeezed orange juice, and orange zest in small sauce pot, heat together on medium high heat for about 2 minutes.

With a brush paint the glaze onto each loaf, sprinkle with pink, orange, green and blue colored sugar.

Time to celebrate!



Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) #DiadelosMuertos

This year Dia de los Muertos is Friday November 1st and ends Saturday November 2nd!

Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead) #DiadelosMuertos

I love the way the author ends sharing this recipe:

“Serve to the dead, or the living…..who tend to eat more of it!”


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  • passthesushi
    Rock out with your bad ass bread. I wish people celebrated Dia de los Muertos in my area, but sadly they do not. It looks like it could be wicked fun.
  • Angie
    wow can't believe that's a brad! Looks so cool!
  • Tutti Dolci
    Your bread looks so wonderful, I love the festive colors!
  • Hotly Spiced
    I only heard of this festival a few years ago. We don't have many Mexican migrants here in Oz so it's not something we have heard a lot about. I love all the colours of the sugar you used to decorate your bread xx
  • The Joy of Caking
    That is some wild bread Terra. Who would have ever thought to deck it out like that? Love it!
  • kitchenriffs
    We've never celebrated Dia de los Muertos, and should - sounds like fun. And if I can make this great looking bread? Score! Gotta do it - thanks.
  • I heard about it, but never had a chance to celebrate it. My kids may be scared to death but it sounds fun! :D I love the colorful bread! So fun!!
  • Suzanne
    Wow, Terra this bread looks great! Looks like a crazy fun celebration too. Happy Halloween!
  • I have celebrated Dia de los Muertos once. One of my co-workers at a past job was a fanatic about it and made sure that the whole office participated in at least a couple of days of celebration. I don't remember the bread however. It reminds me of a Mardi Gras King Cake. The color are almost spot on and the recipe is a somewhat similar. My neighbor brought me a King cake back from Mardi Gras last year and Bobby and I ate it in two days. I think your bread would be just as dangerous.
  • Jamie
    Oh, Terra, this Pan de Muerto is incredible!! I love it! First of all the bread itself looks perfect but that glaze! Oh wow! What fun! I am so fascinated by the connection between all the pan dei morti yet how they can be so different! You saw that in Italy they are cookies while Mexico they are bread; Fabulousi
  • Ooh never heard of this festival,but it sounds like fun and fascinating!Your bread looks so colorful and delicious Terra!Perfect for Halloween :)
  • Jennie @themessybakerblog
    I love your blinged out loaves of bread. Seriously, prettiest loaf of bread I've ever seen. This holiday sounds like a ton of fun.
  • The Café Sucré Farine
    That is one colorful loaf Terra! I can tell you had a lot of fun with this one!
  • Kate | Food Babbles
    This bread is so awesome! I love the rich history behind its roots as well as the holiday. It's gorgeous, vibrant and screams celebration. Love!
  • Thespicyrd
    Love this post and need to share it with my daughter! We just went to our first Dia de Los Muertos celebration last weekend in Old Town San Diego, and it was wonderful! My daughter is taking her first year of Spanish and her teacher said she could get extra credit for attending the festivities. The altars were just beautiful, and my kids left messages for their two great grandmothers :-). She has been dying to make Pan de Muerto so I'll be sharing your beautiful loaf with her! Xoxo