Pan de Muerto Recipe


This recipe is adapted from Larousse de los Postres by Paulina Abascal.

Notes: Liquid ingredients should be heated to between 100°F to 110°F. Orange blossom water is available in the international aisle of many supermarkets and liquor stores, as well as Middle Eastern markets.

Recipe Facts

Active: 45 mins
Total: 5 hrs
Makes: 2 loaves

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  • For the Bread:
  • 3 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from 2 1/4-ounce packages)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for counter
  • 1/2 cup warm water (See notes)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom water (See Notes)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (See Notes)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • Cooking spray or 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  •  For the Assembly:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar or bright pink colored sugar


  1. For the Bread: Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 200°F. As soon as oven reaches temperature, shut it off. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Combine yeast and 1 tablespoon flour in small bowl with warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

  3. Combine remaining flour, sugar, salt, orange blossom water, orange zest, and warm milk in bowl. Fit mixer with hook attachment and mix on medium speed until ingredients are combined, about 2 minutes (mixture will appear dry and crumbly). Add eggs and egg yolks and continue mixing until a smooth, shiny dough is formed, 8 to 10 minutes.

  4. Add butter and mix until combined, 2 to 3 minutes

  5. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray or brush with oil. Transfer dough to bowl, lightly grease with additional cooking spray or oil and cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel. Let rise in (shut off) oven until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

  6. Punch dough down and transfer to a clean, dry work surface lightly dusted with flour.

  7. Cut the dough in two, then, cut off 1/3 of each of the two and divide those pieces into 4 (these will be used to make the decorative top).

  8. Shape the large pieces of dough into large balls and place one on each of the prepared baking sheets.

  9. With the remaining 8 small pieces of dough: shape 2 into balls.

  10. Roll the rest out into 8-inch long cylinders. Extend your index, middle, and ring finger (as if you’re signing the number 3) and press down on each of the cylinders to create three indentations.

  11. Pinch and stretch out the indentations to make the bone-like decorations.

  12. Set the decorative dough pieces on the baking sheets. Lightly grease dough with cooking spray or oil and cover lightly with plastic wrap.

  13. Allow dough rise in (shut off) oven for 1 hour.

  14. To Assemble: Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat egg yolk and cream in small bowl. Brush bread with egg wash, then arrange decorative dough pieces and brush with egg wash once again. Sprinkle with sugar.

  15. Arrange both finished doughs on a single parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

  16. Transfer to cooling rack and cool bread on sheet about 10 minutes. Transfer bread directly to cooling rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.

Special equipment

2 baking sheets, parchment paper, thermometer, electric mixer fitted with dough hook, kitchen towel, pastry brush, plastic wrap, cooling rack

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