November 1, 2007

La Dia de los Muertos

La Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead is probably one of the coolest holidays that I've never observed. I keep meaning to integrate it into my autumn spooktivites, but honestly I get wrapped up in Halloween and I've never gotten around to making the little skeletal joys of La Dia de los Muertos. In my thinking though, decorated Candy Skulls are very festive looking, and Pan de Muertos which is the Bread of the Dead, other than sounding very Goth, is actually quite tasty.

When I lived in Las Vegas, I used to enjoy going to Panaderias to buy mexican pastries, and of course during this time of year, Pan de Muertos was everywhere. The loaves are round, sweet, and scented with orange and anise. They are decorated with bread "bones" on top and sprinkled with sugar. They even have smaller versions, more of an individual loaf (or kid-sized), dotted with colored sprinkles. This year, I'll make my own.

Pan de Muertos

1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. milk,warm
1/2 c. water,warm
5.5 c. white flour
2 t. yeast
1 t. salt
1 T. anise seeds, whole
1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs, beaten
Glaze for the top **
  1. Mix butter, milk, and water together and heat until butter is melted.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and 1/2 c. flour and add the butter and milk mixture. Add the yeast, salt and anise seed and eggs.
  3. Add the flour one cup at a time until the dough is soft but not sticky. .
  4. Knead lightly until smooth and elastic.
  5. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down and shape into 1 large or 2 smaller round loaves, using some dough to form "bones" for the top. Let rise for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the loaves on a sheet pan for 40 minutes, or until the tops are golden.
  7. Brush with the glaze of your choice.
**There are a few different choices for glazes. The first one is to brush the top of the bread with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. The sugar can be colored which looks festive. Go bright. Another tasty option is to bring 1/3 c. orange juice, 1/3 c. sugar and 1-2 T. of orange zest to a boil for a minute or two and then brush it on while warm. You can also add colored sprinkles for the kiddies. Yum.

Follow this link to a nifty photo of decorated candy skulls and Pan de Muertos and it leads to other rather cool photos of Day of the Dead accoutrements.

If you want to see some excellent photos of decorated Candy Skulls and perhaps try your hand at making a few, click here for a site that sells supplies.

Feliz Dia de Muertos!

No comments: