Patricia Quintana's Pan de Muerto Recipe

Patricia Quintana's Pan de Muerto Recipe

Pan de muerto is a key component of any Day of the Dead altar worth its salt. But beyond that, it's just plain tasty. This recipe, from one of the most respected figures working in traditional Mexican cuisine, should keep you and any hungry ghosts roaming around your kitchen well fed this Día de Muertos.

Originally printed in The Taste of Mexico by Patricia Quintana. Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1986.

  • Yield:Makes two round loaves
  • Active time: 1 hour
  • Total time:14 hours


  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3/4 to 1 ounce dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup lard
  • 1 tablespoon orange peel, grated
  • 2 tablespoons orange-blossom extract
  • 3 tablespoons anise extract
  • 7 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • For the Glaze:
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • Sugar to taste


  1. 1.

    Prepare the dough: Put warm water in a glass bowl. Add yeast, stirring to dissolve. Set aside in a warm spot near the stove. Add 6 to 8 tablespoons flour to yeast and water to form a stiff dough. Set aside again in a warm spot until doubled in volume.

  2. 2.

    In a separate bowl, sift remaining flour and sugar. Add salt, 3 eggs, 7 egg yolks, butter, lard, orange peel, orange-blossom and anise extracts, and 6 1/2 tablespoons milk. Mix well, and knead briefly.

  3. 3.

    Add yeast mixture, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a greased glass bowl, and spread a little butter on the surface. Cover dough with a dish towel, and set aside in a warm spot for 12 hours or until doubled in volume.

  4. 4.

    Knead briefly again. From the dough, pinch two 2-inch balls, 8 2-inch strips, and eight 1-inch balls. Divide remaining dough in half. Roll into 2 circles 6 inches in diameter. Place circles on a greased baking sheet.

  5. 5.

    Beat together 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, and 1 tablespoon milk. Brush circles with mixture. Place 2-inch ball in center of each circle, and decorate the circumference with 1-inch balls and strips. Allow bread to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

  6. 6.

    Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake bread for 30 to 40 minutes.

  7. 7.

    Prepare the glaze: Put flour, water, egg yolks, and egg in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens to consistency of heavy cream.

  8. 8.

    Brush freshly baked bread with glaze. Sprinkle bread with sugar, and return to oven.

  9. 9.

    Bake for five minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with more sugar. Allow to cool. Serve with hot chocolate.