Pan De Muertos
It's one of my favorite holiday traditions in San Antonio - the flower associated with it is the marigold, and there are hundreds of thousands of them sold. People here gather their families together and picnic in the old cemeteries to honor the departed. There are always altars made decorated with sugar skulls and mementos of loved ones. The Day Of The Dead is traditionally Nov. 1st and sometimes Nov. 2nd
Pan de Muertos (Bread of The Dead) is baked for this holiday. Pieces of it are shared with living family and placed on the homemade altars to "share"
With family members who have crossed over.
Scald milk by heating to just under boiling point, about 180F (80c). Pour over butter, 1/2 cup sugar,salt, orange peel and ground anise seeds in a large bowl. Stir until sugar is dossolved. Let cool. Stir yeast and pinch of sugar into 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand until yeast is softened. Beat whole eggs and egg yolks in small bowl. Spoon two tablespoons beaten eggs into small custard cup. Stir in 1
(this is for the "bones"). Shape large pieces of dough into round laves.
Place on prepared baking sheets. Brush with some of reserved egg mixture.
Cross bone shapes on top of loaf, stretching the ends to reach the bottom of both sides. Shape third piece of dough onto a ball and moisten bottem of dough piece with egg mixture. Place in center of crossbones, pressing firmly. (Note - you can make a pretty neat-looking little skull if you make two dough balls and put the larger one on top of the littler one and sort of poke some eyes with the end of a chopstick) Repeat with remaining small piece of dough and remaining loaf. Cover loosely with towels. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F (175c). Brush loaves evenly with egg mixture. Sprinkle each loaf with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Makes two loaves.
Note: This bread is served at the annual celebration in San Antonio at the Tienda Guadalupe folk art gallery, often accompanied by Mexican chocolate and Mexican Beer. The decorations include tissue paper banners that have been pierced with metal chisels and which show skeletons in various activities, mostly having a very good time.