Written by Natalie –
Día de los Muertos is a unique holiday that is mostly celebrated in Mexico but also known throughout the world. On this day, people honor and remember their loved ones that have passed away. It coincides with the Catholic holiday of All Soul’s day on November 2.
People set up altars featuring some of the deceased’s favorite food, beverages and objects as a means to encourage their soul to visit the living on this date. They eat a traditional bread called “Pan de Muerto” or “Bread of the Dead”. These sweet breads are filled with so much meaning!
I recently created a recipe for Pan de Muerto that incorporated NESTLÉ® LA LECHERA® Sweetened Condensed Milk. My heritage is Peruvian and we don’t observe Día de los Muertos, so I set off to do some research. What I found warmed my heart and got me very excited to create something so meaningful.
Pan de Muerto is a simple yeast bread, lightly sweetened with the LA LECHERA sweetened condensed milk, made fragrant by the addition of anise seeds and then sprinkled with sugar on top. It is usually shaped like a bun and many say that this is to portray the circle of life or a tomb. The top of the bread is decorated with pieces of dough shaped to represent the skull and bones of loved ones.
I absolutely fell in love with this holiday! The idea of celebrating those you have lost every year on the same day and eating a sweet bread that you only eat for that occasion really touched me. My children were born after their grandfathers passed away and I find this holiday will be a wonderful way to further integrate their memories into our family. If you are looking to create traditions for your family I highly encourage you to try this one. I will be!
Ingredients for 2 loaves, 10 servings per loaf:
- 1 packet (7 grams) active-dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (100-110° F)
- 1/2 cup NESTLÉ LA LECHERA Sweetened Condensed Milk or NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon anise seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with 2 teaspoons water
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
STIR yeast and warm water in a large glass bowl; allow to rest 10 minutes. Heat La Lechera and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Add anise seeds, salt and La Lechera mixture to yeast mixture and stir to combine.
ADD eggs and 1 cup flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Continue adding remaining flour, cup by cup, stirring well until dough comes together. Knead dough gently for about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticky. Place in large greased bowl. Cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
LINE a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
PUNCH dough down and divide in half. Cut 3 small (about 1 tablespoonful) balls from each half. Roll out 4 small dough balls to form the “bones.” Shape each of larger dough pieces into round loaves. Gently press the bones on top of the loaves crossing each other to make an “X”. Roll the remaining 2 small dough balls to form the “skulls”. Put skulls in middle of each “X” and gently press down. Place loaves on the prepared baking sheet and allow to rise in warm place for about 30 minutes.
PREHEAT oven to 350º F. Brush tops of each loaf with egg wash.
BAKE for 20 minutes; remove loaves from oven and brush again with egg wash and sprinkle each with half of the granulated sugar. Return to oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Serve warm or cool completely. Bread is best eaten the same day it’s prepared.
We recently hosted several Latina bloggers and writers for our second annual Dia de los Muertos Media Immersion Event. It took place at our Nestlé US Headquarters in Glendale, CA. The attendees were treated to all things Día de los Muertos. They heard speakers, made their own altars, ate delicious food and, of course, they got to make their very own loaves of Pan de Muerto with yours truly and Chris Garboski! The energy and passion these people have is contagious.
Here are some pictures from the event:
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