Pan de Muerto – Bread of the Dead

Pan de muerto

Last year I wrote a post about the Mexican holiday known as Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) you can read it here. The bread in the pictures for that post was bought at the Mexican market, but I made a commitment to bake my own bread this year and I did it! This is the very first time I make this delicious bread and I am very happy with the result.

After looking at recipes online for a couple of hours, I decided to make the one I saw on this video. It is basically the bread that is common in Mexico City, other parts of the country have variations of this bread. This recipe calls for orange blossom water, but if you can’t find it, you can use anise seeds or extract (most recipes I found in English use this variation) This is a long recipe and I am including a couple of videos to help with the explanation. I am also using metric measurements, but you can easily convert them to English using the converter on the sidebar. If you have any questions or feel like I don’t explain myself very well, please leave me a comment and I’ll review this post. Without more ado here it is, one of my favorite Mexican breads:

Pan de muerto

Pan de Muerto
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: Makes 6 small loaves
  • •250 gr all-purpose flour
  • •50 gr sugar
  • •1 package dry yeast (7 gr)
  • •75 gr butter, at room temperature
  • •2 TBSP orange blossom water
  • •1 pinch salt
  • •100 ml milk
  • •2 eggs
  • •zest of one lime and one orange
  • •2 TBSP butter
  • •1 cup of sugar
  1. In the bowl of a stand-up mixer cream flour, sugar, yeast and butter at slow speed.
  2. Add eggs one by one, milk, orange blossom, salt and zest. Turn speed to medium and mix for about 10 minutes.
  3. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rest for 1 hour in a warm place or until it doubles in size.
  4. Punch the dough in the middle and turn over a floured surface. Divide in 7 equal parts. 6 of those parts will become your loaves and the last one will be used to make the decorations. This video shows how to make the loaves, the "bones" that will go on top of them and how to place them. It is in Spanish but it is visually self-explanatory. Basically, you form the 6 loaves, place them on a greased baking sheet and let them double in size, covered. The bones and little balls to decorate the bread are placed on a plate, covered and put in the fridge to keep them firm and avoid they expand.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 180°C (about 355°F).
  6. Decorate the bread (refer to video) and bake for about 20 minutes. It will be ready when it is golden brown in the outside.
  7. In the meantime melt the 2 TBSP of butter in a small pot. As soon as the bread comes out of the oven brush melted butter and sprinkle sugar over them. You can also place the sugar on a flat plate and roll the loaves in it.
  8. Let the bread cool down and enjoy with a cup of hot Mexican chocolate.

Pan de muerto

Día de Muertos is one of the most delicious Mexican traditions and you can enjoy its flavors with this delicious bread. The work going into it is considerable, but it is worth it. Especially when you are enjoying it with a mug of delicious Mexican chocolate. I’ll leave you with some videos about this holiday. The first one is another recipe for bread of the dead baked by three very cute little chefs:

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This video is the Day of the Dead celebration in Oaxaca, very colorful and festive:

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And a travel channel clip about Mexico’s Day of the Dead:

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¡Buen provecho!


  • How interesting…back in Brazil with too celebrate the dead on Nov 2nd, but as far as I know there are no bread involved…this bread looks yummie, love the pictures 🙂

  • Perfect, perfect bread. You've got great skill baking as well as cooking.

  • Yours looks a bit prettier than the one my kids made :-). Not sure I could take one of your loaves and leave it at a grave site.__Thanks for linking to their home-school project. We've been having fun baking and learning some geography and culture.____

  • Ben! Voy a hacer esta receta esta tarde, luce deliciosa. Dos preguntas – 1. con que reemplazo el orange blossom water, y 2. cuantas tablespoons de levadura tiene el paquete que utilizas???? (porque mi levadura viene en tarros). Saludos desde Santo Domingo! Cocinotas

    • Hola Susana,

      Puedes usar extracto de anis o extracto de naranja y son 2 1/4 cucharaditas de levadura o 7gr. Si la masa te queda muy humeda usas mas harina hasta que obtenga una consistencia con la que se pueda trabajar.

      Luego me dices como te quedo. Saludos!

  • I'm discovering a new kind of bread today. These look so yummy.

  • Wow. I'm way overdue on this one, but I've finally posted about this bread. Thanks for a great recipe and tutorials!

  • Wow. I'm way overdue on this one, but I've finally posted about this bread. Thanks for a great recipe and tutorials!

  • This is one bread I have been promising myself I should bake. I saw this picture at the DMBLGiT gallery and thought it looked good.

  • What an amazing wedding cake! So inspiring, so beautiful!

  • These look wonderful and so worth the effort! I really fancy doing something with yeast at the moment and this looks so delicious! Lovely post, learn something new every day hey! 🙂

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