Dia de los Muertos and Pan de Muerto

Fall is in the air and one of our favorite holidays/traditions is right around the corner. According to an old belief, nothing can keep the dead in their graves during Dia de Los Muertos, November 1st and 2nd. They come back to earth from the afterlife to celebrate. Elaborate alters covered in marigolds, candles, elaborate sugar skulls and are built to celebrate with loved ones passed. 

After November 2nd there's a big farewell that takes place in the cemeteries. Everyone celebrates with festive food including Pan de Muerto, music and dancing. When midnight hits, all the dead return to the afterlife for a little rest until party times happens again next year. 


Pan de Muerto



  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast  
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water  
  • 1/4 cup milk  
  • 4 tablespoons butter, diced plus extra for greasing  
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar  
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt  
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/3 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting  
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise  
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon  


1. Put the yeast in a large mixing bowl with the water, stir then let it stand for 5 minutes. Put the milk in a saucepan set over medium, bring to a boil then remove from the heat and add the butter, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the salt. Stir until dissolved then add the milk mixture to the yeast. 

2. Add one egg and the flour to the liquid ingredients, mix to combine, then knead until a smooth and silky dough forms. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours.  

3. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and divide the dough into four even pieces. Set one piece aside. Using the palm of your hands, shape three ropes of equal length.  

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Weave the three doughs into a braid then join the ends to make a round loaf. Make two bones and a skull with the extra piece of dough. Or if you're like me, something that looks a bit like a gorilla. Haha. Place them on the top of the loaf. Place on the baking sheet let rise for a half hour. 

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together anise, cinnamon and the rest of the sugar in a small bowl. Beat the remaining egg and brush it onto the dough, then sprinkle with your sugar mixture.  

6. Bake in the bottom of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden.  

- adapted from a recipe by pastry chef Edward Gee 

photos by Penny & Finn