Pan De Muertos or Mexican Sweet Bread

Day of the Dead is coming up and no celebration would be complete without pan de muertos. This dessert bread has several names in the Portland area; pan de muertos, pan dulce, conchas, and Mexican sweet bread. No matter what your family calls it, restaurants and food carts all over the Portland area will be serving this delectable treat. Here’s how you can make your own.

You Need:

1/4 cup milk 1/4 cup (half a stick) margarine or butter, cut into chunks 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 tsp salt 1 package active dry yeast 1/4 cup very warm water 2 eggs 3 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted 1/2 tsp anise seed 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 2 tsp sugar (this is not a misprint)

This recipe makes 8-10 servings of this delicious bread.

Bring milk to boil and remove from heat. Stir in margarine or butter, 1/4 cup sugar and salt.

In a large bowl, mix yeast with warm water until dissolved and let stand 5 minutes. Add the milk mixture.

Separate the yolk and whites of one egg. Add the yolk to the yeast mixture, but save the white for later. Now add flour to the yeast and egg. Blend well until dough ball is formed.

Flour a pastry board or work surface very well and place the dough in center. Knead until smooth. Return to large bowl and cover with dish towel. Let rise in warm place, like on top of the fridge, for 90 minutes.Grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Knead dough again on your floured surface. Now divide the dough into fourths and set one fourth aside. Roll the remaining 3 pieces into “ropes.”

On a greased baking sheet, pinch 3 rope ends together and braid. Finish by pinching ends together on opposite side. Divide the remaining dough in half and form 2 “bones.” Cross and lay them atop braided loaf.

Cover bread with dish towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix anise seed, cinnamon and 2 teaspoons sugar together. In another bowl, beat egg white lightly.

When 30 minutes are up, brush top of bread with egg white and sprinkle with sugar mixture, except on cross bones. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

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