Day of The Dead Bread~The Legacy of Past Civilizations

As in many Latin American countries, Mexico commemorates the Day of the Dead or All Souls’ Day on November 1st and 2nd. It is meant to honor the legacy of past civilizations through people’s beliefs that death is a transition from one life to another in different levels where communication exists between the living and the dead.   Day of the Dead in Mexico is not a mournful commemoration -but a happy and colorful celebration where death takes a lively, friendly expression and the celebrations are plentful where food is a amazing part of the ritual!

People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages as well as photos and memorabilia of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

Plans for the day are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead. During the three-day period, families usually clean and decorate graves; most visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas (“offerings”), which often include orange mexican marigolds and amazing, Pan de Muertos ( Mexican Sweet Bread!)


Pan de Muertos ( Day of the Dead Sweet Bread)

This is a version of the bread that is made for the November 1st & 2nd celebration known as the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico. You can also mold the bread into different shapes like animals or  angels .


  •                     1/4 cup margarine
  •                     1/4 cup milk
  •                     1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  •                     3 cups all-purpose flour
  •                     1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  •                     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •                     2 teaspoons anise seed
  •                     1/4 cup white sugar
  •                     2 eggs, beaten
  •                     2 teaspoons orange zest
  •                     1/4 cup white sugar
  •                     1/4 cup orange juice
  •                     1 tablespoon orange zest
  •                     2 tablespoons white sugar


Heat the milk and the butter together in a medium saucepan, until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add them warm water. The mixture should be around 110 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat in the warm milk mixture then add the eggs and orange zest and beat until well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and continue adding more flour until the dough is soft.   Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take about 1 to 2 hours. Punch the dough down and shape it into a large round loaf with a round knob on top, or your desired shape. Place dough onto a baking sheet, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size.

Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven let cool slightly then brush with glaze.

To make glaze: In a small saucepan combine the 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Brush over top of bread while still warm. Sprinkle glazed bread with white sugar.



Published by Chef Gigi Gaggero, Host of Silicon Valley's LIVE Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM

Professional Chef, Two Time Award-Winning Book Author, Former Academic Director from Le Cordon Bleu, and Host of Silicon Valley's LIVE Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM

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