Pan de Muerto

Back when I was living in Mexico I learnt how to make this bread. It is an iconic symbol of Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. It is one of the symbols that are placed at offrendas or altars that will coax and feed the souls as they return to their loved ones once a year.

Learn more about Dia de los muertos here.

You are more than welcome to freeze this bread and heat it up when you get a craving, but if you taste it straight out of the oven you will not stop at just one. Enjoy the recipe and let me know how it goes!!


Makes : 8 large buns / Baking Time: 30-40 minutes / Preparation Time: 20 minutes plus proving time


14g instant dry yeast

1 cup / 235mls whole milk

4 medium eggs

2 oranges, zest and juice (approximately ¾ cup juice)

170g unsalted butter

180g caster sugar

2 tsp aniseed

¼ tsp fine sea salt

800g plain flour

Extra flour for rolling

1 egg for egg wash


100g sugar

100mls orange juice

120 g fine caster sugar for sprinkling



Mix 50g sugar, yeast, ½ cup warm milk and ¾ cup flour. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes to activate the yeast.

Whisk the rest of the sugar, milk, eggs, zest and juice, aniseed in a separate bowl

Sift flour and salt separately.

Whisk egg and yeast mixture together.

In an electric mixer, on a low speed with the dough hook attached, pour in wet mixture and add 1/3 of the flour. Add ½ of the melted butter and allow to mix for about 3 minutes. Continue this until both butter and flour is mixed in.

Allow to mix for 5-8 minutes at a medium/high speed until everything is incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the mixing bowl.

Transfer the mixture into a large oiled container with a secure lid. Allow to rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size and then transfer to the fridge to sit overnight.

Make sure the container is big enough as the dough will rise quite a bit.

The next day….

Preheat the oven to 180’C

Turn out the dough on a floured surface and shape 8 x 150g balls of dough. Place on a lined baking tray.

With the remaining dough, shape 16 lengths of dough (15 cm each), the thickness of a pen.

Make small balls at the ends of the dough, place on the buns so they cross over.

Roll a small ball of dough and place in the centre of the crosses

Brush with egg yolk and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes

Heat 100g sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved

When the bread is ready, take out of the oven and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack.

Brush with orange juice sugar mixture and dust generously with sugar.

Store in an airtight container, or the bread can be frozen for up to 3 months.