Bake from Scratch

Pan de Muerto

In Mexico, Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a celebration of life and death, where mourning is exchanged for celebration. Every year, during the first two days of November, the country bursts with bright color and conviviality as people dress in vibrant costumes, put flowers in their hair, and paint their faces to resemble smiling skeletons. They gather for dancing and jovial parades in town plazas and bake a bread that has become one of the most vital and delicious Day of the Dead traditions. Pan de muerto, which translates to “bread of the dead” in Spanish, is a sweetened, sugar-topped bread baked in honor of the deceased. At the beginning of October, you may see the round golden loaves piled high in bakery cases throughout Mexico. By the beginning of November, almost every home in the country will have pan de muerto, placed among bright orange marigolds and little sugar skulls on homemade altars built to commemorate loved ones who have passed.

The Day of the Dead is actually a multiday holiday,, dedicated to the person being honored, adorned with pictures, personal possessions, candles, (brightly colored candy skulls), and loaves of freshly baked pan de muerto, among other foods. The sweet bread is believed to encourage the deceased to visit and join in the celebrations. It is believed the spirits do not eat but absorb the bread’s essence, along with water at their ofrenda, after their long journey back to Earth. The baker will usually wear colorful bracelets, a tradition which was originally practiced to protect from burns from the stove or oven.

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