Restaurant Recipes

Cafe el Sol Pan de Muerto
(Day of the Dead Bread)

This is the traditional Mexican pan de muerto made on November 2 for All Souls Day. On this day, families visit graves of their loved ones and pray for their souls. The bread is shared by all friends and family members when they return home.

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  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm (110 degrees F) water
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon crushed anise seeds
  • 1/2 finely shredded orange peel
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • Sugar for sprinkling


  1. Soften yeast in warm water; set aside.
  2. In mixer bowl, cream butter, sugar and salt. Blend in 1/2 cup flour, 1 tablespoon water, anise and orange peel. Add eggs and egg yolk; beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Blend in yeast mixture and 1 cup of the remaining flour; beat 3 minutes at high speed. By hand stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups flour. Cover; refrigerate 4 hours.
  3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Remove 1/4 of the dough and set aside. Shape remainder into ball. Place on greased baking sheet; flatten to 6 inch round.
  4. Divide reserved piece of dough into 4 pieces. Roll 2 pieces into 7 inch ropes to form "crossbones." Combine egg white and 2 teaspoons water. Place crossbones in X atop loaf, attaching with some egg white mixture.
  5. Roll 1 of the remaining pieces into 2 inch ball and place on X as a skull, attaching with egg white. Cut last piece of dough into 4 pieces; shape each into teardrop and secure onto sides of loaf with egg white.
  6. Cover and let rise in warm place 30 to 40 minutes or until nearly double.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes.
  8. Remove to rack. Brush hot loaf with remaining egg white mixture; sprinkle with sugar.
  9. Repeat brushing and sprinkling after 5 minutes.

Yield: 1 loaf


Because some of the egg white used in this recipe is not cooked, it is recommended that cooks use a pasteurized 100% egg white product, found in the refrigerated sections of some supermarkets and specialty food stores. The product comes in a plastic carton or a jar.


Source: Arturo Napoles, Manager, Cafe El Sol Restaurant, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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