Pan de muerto with hot chocolate
Mexican pan de muerto (bread of the dead) is traditionally prepared before Mexican holiday Día de Muertos, which is celebrated on 31st October, 1st and 2nd November. It is time for family gatherings to remember their beloved ones who have died. In some regions of Mexico people eat pan de muerto along with other favorite dishes of the deceased right at their grave or altar. There are altars with the photos of the deceased, their favorite foods, sugar skulls, flowers, candles and the things that characterized them, at home. And, of course, pan de muerto.
It is a sweet bread, flavored with anise, orange blossom water or cinnamon, with specific shape and symbolism. The circular shape of the loaf symbolizes the cycle of life and death, the taste of an orange blossoms is a remembrance of the deceased, the four stripes of the dough symbolize bones and tears for those who have left us. The top of the loaf represents the skull. Symbols, flavors may vary throughout the regions.
This recipe is from very kind person Yuri de Gortari from Cocina Identidad. Traditionally, pan de muerto is served with a hot sweet-corn drink called atole, hot chocolate or with cocoa.
Ingredients (serves 2)
Preparation: 10 minutes
- 400 ml milk
- 80 g at least 70% chocolate
- cinnamon, chilli, cacao, whipped cream — optional
Preparing home-made hot chocolate is very easy. Heat the milk on a mild fire. In the meantime, cut your chocolate into small pieces. Put chocolate pieces in hot milk and stir until it dissolves. Turn off the heat and blend with immersion blender until completely smooth. You can add a little bit of black pepper, whipped cream or cocoa powder.
Pan de Muerto
Ingredients (Serves 8 to 10)
Preparation: 2 hours + 1.5 hour leavening + 20 minutes baking
- 250 g whole-wheat flour
- 3 g salt
- 75 g sugar
- orange zest from 1 orange of 1 tbsp of anise/cinnamon
- 45 g butter
- 1 egg
- orange blossom water
- 100 ml hot milk (use part of it for leaven)
- 2 tbsp whole-wheat flour
- 7.5 g dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- bit of hot milk
- butter, melted
Start with a leaven. In a small bowl mix 2 tbsp of flour, dried yeast and a 1 tsp of sugar. Add some warm milk and mix together to create a smooth leaven. Cover with a kitchen cloth and place in a warm place for 15–20 minutes.
The next step is to prepare the dough. Sift the flour in a bowl, make a hole in the middle, sprinkle it with salt, 1 tbsp of sugar and add orange zest (if you want other flavor, then add anise or cinnamon).
Put a piece of butter and an egg in the hole in the flour and knead it slowly with part of the flour. When the butter, egg and part of the flour are combined, add the remaining butter, little bit of orange blossoms water and the rest of the warm milk. Knead to make a smooth dough, transfer it to clean work surface and knead for another 5 minutes.
Press the dough on the work surface with your fingers, sprinkle it with the rest of sugar, and then knead it again until completely combined. If the leaven have grown nicely, press the dough again with your fingers, pour over the leaven and knead. It will be madly sticky, but do not worry. Use a confectionery spatula and knead the dough for at least 5 minutes. Dough should be sticky, but add just a little bit of flour to keep it from sticking. Make a dough ball.
Grease the bowl with oil, put the dough ball in it and smear the dough with oil. Cover it with clean kitchen cloth and put it in a warm place for at least an hour or until it doubles its volume.
Place the leavened dough on the work surface, make a roll and cut off app. 1/5 of the dough to make bones and skull. Shape the remaining dough (4/5) into the ball and place it on the buttered baking form. Gently press the ball by hand.
From the 1/5 dough, cut off the piece and form a small ball — skull (app. 3 cm). Divide the rest of the dough into two parts, flour the work surface, and using the hand and stretched fingers roll the dough to form “bones” or “tears”. Place the two strips of bones crossed on top of the bread, and a small ball (skull) on the top of it. Let the pan de muerto leaven in a warm place (about 30–40 minutes).
Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C. Insert the leavened pan de muerto and immediately lower the temperature to 180 °C. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes on the baking form. After 10 minutes, spread the bread with melted butter and sprinkle it with sugar.
Enjoy Halloween, pleasant remembrance of your lost beloved ones and bon appetite!