Bake a traditional Pan de Muerto and fill your home with the enticing aroma of freshly baked spiced bread on Día de Muertos.
anise, baking, bread, day of the dead, dessert, Dia de Los Muertos, pan dulce, pastry, sweet, traditional, Desserts, Holiday, Hero
1 package active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
5⅓ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. anise seeds
1¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, divided
Vegetable oil spray
Make your starter in a small, non-reactive bowl by combining your water, yeast, and ⅓ cup flour. Mix together until smooth and let rest uncovered in a warmer space for about 35 minutes or until small bubbles start to form.
Combine sugar, salt, anise, and eggs in a bowl. Mix to combine until eggs are fully beaten and then add to your starter. Slowly add the 5 cups of flour by folding until the dough starts to form. If you have a mixer, you can mix on medium speed using a dough hook until shiny. If not, continue kneading on a flour-dusted cutting board until smooth. Flatten the dough and fold in the butter. Continue folding & kneading until butter is fully incorporated.
Place dough into a large bowl that’s been brushed with melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Note: The best place to let bread rise is on top of your refrigerator.
Prepare a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Dust your cutting board. Place dough onto cutting board. Cut off ⅓ of the dough. Form the larger piece into a ball and place onto baking sheet. With the smaller piece, cut into thirds. Form two pieces into long bones, long enough to reach across the entire large ball. Form the last piece into a small ball. Place all the pieces separately onto the baking sheet. Cover again with plastic wrap and let it rise about another hour or until again doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 325°. Remove plastic wrap. Drape one of the bones across the large round base. Lay the other bone across and place a small round at the center. We are making a crossbones shape! Do not push down or tuck the pieces too tightly otherwise they will tear.
Place in the oven and bake for 40–50 minutes or until done.
When you remove the bread from the oven, brush immediately with melted butter and sprinkle with a generous amount of sugar. Let cool for about 1 hour.