In the Mexican culture the Day of the Dead is celebrated on Nov. 2. It is a celebration of death as a joyful rebirth and a chance to remember and celebrate lost loved ones. Explore the ...
Bread of the Dead (Pan de Muertos)
- 2 Rhodes Bread loaves, defrosted but still cold
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 6 teaspoons of sugar
- ¾ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 Egg
Thousands of years ago the Mayan, Aztec, and other native peoples of the America’s held amazing celebrations to commemorate their dead. With the conquest by the Spanish, there came a marriage of the Catholic “All Saints Day” traditions with the traditions of these early native peoples. As opposed to the European ideas of malice, hell, evil, and danger; the Mayan and Aztecs viewed death as a joyful rebirth as well as the sacred skull the reminder of the form the gods chose to contain the greatest ability given to man, the ability to think. Just look at the Aztec calendar which contains a large skull at the center.
Today Mexico and other Latin American people celebrate The Day of the Dead on November 2nd. On this day, families celebrate death and especially their dead. The tradition can vary from region or town but for the most part you will find entire families at the cemetery serenading their dead with live concerts of their dead’s favorite music. Alters to their dead are erected at the cemetery and or their home where a variety of things are offered. Typically you will find candles, flowers, food loved by the deceased to share, important personal items of the deceased, many skulls, and lots of Bread of the Dead.
The Bread of the Dead is symbolic. It is a circle with bones placed in a circle to symbolize the circle of life. At the top you will often find a round tear to symbolize your tear or sorrow for the dead. Sometimes, this is replaced with a skull considered a more joyful symbol of rebirth and blessing.
Pan de Muertos can also vary in flavors. Some use anise seeds over the top, others add orange or other flavors. This version is very simplified for varied tastes. I invite you to make this bread and share this background with your family on November 2nd so you can enjoy a little about the Mexican culture. A trip to the local cemetery may be in order too.
Take your 2 loaves and place on aluminum foil. Flatten a little and add half of the Sugar over each.
Now knead each thoroughly and shape into a ball.
Now cut each ball into 4 pieces and set aside 2 pieces. Kneed the 6 pieces individually to make into as round and smooth of a ball as you can. Place on a sprayed cooking sheet. Then place sprayed plastic wrap over it. Let sit until it triples in size.
Take the remaining two pieces and cut into 12 pieces so you have 2 “bones” for each roll. Take each piece and using your hand roll into a strip. Place these on sprayed tin foil with sprayed plastic wrap over it.
When your rolls have risen sufficiently, take each strip and re-roll with your hand into long strips to place over the entire roll. That means that your two trips should cross in an X with the center of the X being at the center top of the roll. At least one if not both of your strips will be too long. Take the remainder of each roll and roll into a ball to place over the place where the two strips intersect at the top. It will look like this.
Take your egg and whip it. Brush the egg over the entire roll.
Take your sugar and ground cinnamon and mix. Now sprinkle the mixture over the roll making sure that you DO NOT sprinkle any over the strips or dot over the top. Remember, they symbolize “Bones” and a “tear”.
Now place into a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. Your rolls will look like this.
My mother was around so I wanted her to be the first to try them. Now, I will have to confess something. My mother and I agreed that we both dislike Bread of the Dead. We have never known anyone who has made their own and we have only tasted that purchased at the various Mexican bread shops. So, she reluctantly tried it. She said it was the best she has ever tasted and compared it to the store purchased kind. She gave the recipe an 8 out of 10 with that in mind. I know that the Rhodes bread made the difference.