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Day of the dead bread

Pan de muerto (Day of the dead bread)

Day of the dead is a holiday filled with symbolism . One of my favorite elements is the delicious pan de muerto, Day of the dead bread. There are many variations of this pastry throughout the country, some of them look like little arm-crossed people and they’re also known as ánimas (spirits), in Oaxaca for example they’re made out of a traditional egg yolks decorated with a small sugar figurine. 

Ingredients may vary as well, although it’s commonly made out of wheat flour, eggs, butter, yeast and sugar that are often covered in white or pink sugar, and even glazed with egg wash and topped with sesame seeds. 

Here in the middle of the country, the dough is usually perfumed with orange blossom water, rolled into a round shaped bun, topped with a smaller ball that represents a skull and long stripes dripping to the sides representing limbs or tears. The bun then is covered in white sugar.

In the last few years some bakeries have started slicing the pastry horizontally and then stuffing it with different things such as clotted cream, nutella or dulce de leche. 

At some point in my life I was making lots of this delicious pastries during season and selling them to everyone I could get a hold on. I now share this recipe with you, hoping it fills your house with delicious smells and your belly with tasty flavors. 

Day of the dead bread


1Kg Flour
200gr Sugar
10gr Salt
40gr Dry yeast
12 Eggs
450gr Butter
2Tbs Orange zest
1Tsp Orange blossom water
100gr Shortening
400gr White sugar for decoration


Mix all the dry ingredients with the eggs and through in the mixer bowl. Work at slow speed.
Add butter at room temperature in small portions.
Add orange zest and orange blossom water and work the dough until they gluten is well developed.
Melt the shortening, varnish the bottom of a bowl. Put the dough inside and cover with more shortening. Rest until dough has doubled its size.
Take two thirds of the dough and portion in small 50gr balls. Place in baking tray.
Take the remaining third, add 100gr of flour and knit until smooth. Take 15gr portions and form a long stripes pushing your fingers down without breaking the dough. Place on top of the buns in a cross shape.
Roll little 15gr balls and place on top of each bun. Rest the dough for 15 minutes
Bake at 180ºC for 20-25 minutes or until the buns are cooked.
Varnish the buns while they're still hot with the melted shortening and roll in white sugar.
The Curious Mexican
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