Jessica Dee

Home baker. Dessert & Mexican bread maker.

Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto is a traditional Mexican sweet bread, a staple during el Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). The cross bones on top signify the bones of the deceased, while the ball in the center replicates a tear from the living.
It is highly likely that you will find it in every Mexican bakery as el Dia de los Muertos nears. Pan de Muerto carries a major significance in Mexican culture as it is offered to those who have passed.
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 10


  • 2 large baking sheets
  • 1 large bowl
  • parchment paper
  • 1 pastry cutter



  • 12 g yeast 1 tbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • pinch sugar


  • 720 g Bread flour 4 1/2 cups
  • 135 g sugar 1/2 cup
  • 4 TBS salted butter soft, room temperature
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 orange for zest
  • 2 TBS orange extract
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice


  • powdered sugar or granulated sugar
  • colored sugar



  • Warm milk to 100 degrees F. Add yeast and big pinch of sugar. Mix and let sit for 8-10 minutes.


  • In mixing bowl: combine flour and sugar, mix with whisk.
    Using dough attachment: add eggs one at a time until incorporated.
    Add butter a little a time until combined.
    Add yeast mixture, orange extract & orange zest.
    Lastly, add fresh orange juice in increments.
    Knead dough 8-10 minutes. The dough should stretch when pulled.
    Place dough in a buttered/oiled bowl. Lightly butter top of dough. Cover and proof in warm place 1 1/2 -2 hours.
    Remove dough and separate into two equal pieces.
    Cut a quarter off of each piece.
    Form two larger pieces into balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
    Separate small dough into 5 smaller pieces. Form 4 pieces into strips (bones) & 1 into a small ball (tear). Repeat with additional piece.
    Proof all pieces for 1 hour.
    Preheat oven to 320F.
    Drape bone pieces like crossbones over the large dough balls. Then, add small ball on top and gently press down.
    Optional: brush bread with milk before baking.
    Bake for 35-40 minutes.
    Dust a generous amount of powdered sugar.


  • While is yeast fermenting, Begin the process of mixing the other ingredients. 
  • For the first proof, I set dough in oven with light on. It double in about an hour and a half. 
  • You can actually decorate how you want. I decided to go more traditional for this recipe. 
  • If you brush with milk, granulated sugar will not stick to bread. I used powdered sugar and colored sugar. 
  • If you decide not to brush with milk, granulated sugar should stick. 
  • For this recipe I cut bread in half and filled with whipped cream. I recommend eating right away if you decide to add whipped cream.
Keyword bread, dia de los muertos, mexican sweet bread, pan de muerto, pan dulce

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