Bread of the Dead (Pan de Muertos)

Pan de Muerto

This bread is traditionally baked for All Souls Day on November 2. This is the day that Mexican families visit graves of deceased relatives, have a picnic, and celebrate the eternity of their souls. When making the bread, a little dough is used to decorate the top of each loaf with bones, crosses and tears. These shapes rise with the loaf and are attached just before baking.


  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons anise water
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Milk
  • Pink sugar crystals


  1. Dissolve yeast in water, then add 1 cup of the flour. Stir to make a soft sponge, cover with a cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
  2. Set aside 1/2 cup flour. To the yeast mixture add the remaining flour mixed with salt, sugar and the cooled butter that has been mixed with eggs, anise water, orange blossom water and orange rind. Mix well and turn out on a board floured with the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Dough will be soft, so keep hands floured and knead lightly. Pat into a greased bowl and set in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours to rise.
  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Shape into a round loaf in a 9-inch diameter pan. Bake for about 30 minutes.
  5. If desired, cool and frost with confectioners' sugar mixed with vanilla extract and only enough milk to make a glaze of frosting consistency. Glaze only the top. Sprinkle with pink sugar crystals. Or you can just sprinkle with granulated sugar .