Pan De Muertos
During Day of the Dead festivities (usually celebrated on November 2, but generally lumped together under the Haloween celebrations) families and vendors alike in Mexico bake the Bread of the Dead, or Pan De Muertos, which eaten or used on altars prepared for the spirits of the dead so they can have some sustenance for the long trip.
Traditionally the bread is is formed in either a round shape with extra dough used on top to fashion bone shapes across it, or fashioned into images of resting corpses. Both are often decorated with brightly colored sugars.
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons anise seed
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons white sugar
Heat the milk and the butter together in a medium saucepan, until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add them warm water. The mixture should be around 110 degrees F (43 degrees C).
In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat in the warm milk mixture then add the eggs and orange zest and beat until well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and continue adding more flour until the dough is soft.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take about 1 to 2 hours. Punch the dough down and shape it into a large round loaf with a round knob on top. Place dough onto a baking sheet, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size.
Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven let cool slightly then brush with glaze.
To make glaze: In a small saucepan combine the 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Brush over top of bread while still warm. Sprinkle glazed bread with white or colored sugar.