Día de los Muertos – Day of the Dead

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“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal.”, Richard Puz

The tradition of the Day of the Dead Celebration is held on November 1. It is a day set aside to celebrate the reuniting the living and dead. It is believed that it is the one time a year when the border between the spirit world and the natural world dissolves. The spirits of the dead visit their loved ones.

As in any tradition, food plays a central role in the celebration. Offerings of food, known as “ofrendas,” are set up on altars to welcome and nourish the spirits of the departed. These ofrendas often include the favorite foods and drinks of the deceased, as it is believed that the spirits will enjoy their favorite flavors and aromas when they visit. One of the traditional dishes is pan de muerto (bread of the dead), commonly prepared during this time. Preparing and sharing these meals brings families and communities together, fostering a sense of togetherness and remembrance. By preparing and consuming these traditional foods, families celebrate and honor their heritage, creating a bridge between the living and the deceased.

Perhaps you may want to start this meaningful celebration in your home. It would be fun to gather at the table, and each person mentions a departed friend or relative and tells a story about that person. If you do, I offer you a simple recipe for Pan de Muerto. This is a traditional sweet eaten on The Day of the Dead. If you can’t get the family together for a celebration, enjoy it while watching the delightful movie Coco.

It’s time to put on your apron!

Anise Orange Pan de Muertos

Recipe by Bernadette Course: DinnerCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 1/2 cups 2 1/2 all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon 1 anise seeds

  • 1 teaspoon 1 active dry yeast

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 salt

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 milk

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 unsalted, melted butter

  • 2 2 eggs

  • 1 tablespoon 1 orange juice and the zest of 1 orange

  • 1 tablesppon 1 water

  • 1 tablespoon 1 granulated sugar for sprinkling


  •  In a small bowl, combine the orange zest and sugar. Rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is fragrant and orange-scented. Set aside.
  • Combine the flour, anise seeds, yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
  •  In a small saucepan, heat the milk until warm but not boiling. Remove from heat and add the melted butter. Stir until the butter is fully incorporated.
  • Whisk the eggs, orange juice, and water together in a separate bowl. Add this mixture to the warm milk and butter mixture. Mix well.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Stir until a dough forms.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5-7 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
    Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until it doubles in size.
  •  Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Once the dough has risen, punch it down to release any air bubbles. Divide the dough into smaller portions and shape them into round balls. Reserve a small portion to create decorative bones for the top.
    Place the round dough balls on the prepared baking sheet, leaving some space between them. Take the reserved dough and shape it into thin strips, forming bones. Place the bones on top of the round dough balls, crossing them in an “X” shape. Cover the dough with the kitchen towel again and let it rise for an additional 30 minutes.
  •  Sprinkle the tops of the dough with the orange-scented sugar mixture.
    Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the bread turns golden brown.
    Remove from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack before serving.

Coming next Tuesday – Cookbook Confidential reviews “An Invitation to Indian Cooking”

25 responses to “Día de los Muertos – Day of the Dead”

  1. johnrieber – I love great food, interesting books, fascinating travel, outrageous movies, and bacon, especially when it sits on top of a great cheeseburger! I work in entertainment – and I have been lucky enough to interview some really talented Artists – that guides my posts: interesting and provocative movies, music, social media and of course, food, since I believe strongly in the maxim, "everyone eats!"
    johnrieber says:

    Terrific history and recipe – shared on my food blog!

  2. I’m not real familiar with Day of the Dead, but this recipe looks good, and I love orange so I’m sure it’s delicious.

  3. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen – I'm a writer, cook, gardener, photographer, poet, quilter, and accomplished daydreamer. I'm also a wife, mother, grandmother, sister. cousin, aunt, and friend, no particular order on any given day. I've been a writer all my life, newspaper reporter and columnist, radio news writer, and magazine contributor, and poet and short-story writer as the spirit moves. Now, I turn my attention to my cookbook, the blog, and a cooking column "Memorable Meals," which runs in our county newspaper. Besides my family, I love dogs, cats, good coffee, chocolate, and my never-dwindling pile of books I intend to read. Our family ran a small Vermont Inn for 18 years, with our focus on local, organic ingredients. I cook from scratch, and try not to use anything that has ingredients I cannot pronounce! After many years of daily serving up local delicacies, cooking classes, and catering, we are now only open for special events, and the odd cooking class. We also host musicians and artists, having helped produce a musical festival and other musical events for nearly 20 years. Many incredible artists have found a place at our table. Wonderful experiences, we will treasure always. My family and friends are my practice subjects. With a family that includes nut, peanut, tree fruit, and vegetable allergies, gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance, vegetarians, vegans, heart conscious, and a couple of picky eaters, there has to be a few quick tricks in the book to keep everyone fed and happy! Personally, I do not eat red meat or most full-fat dairy (usually) for health reasons, making the occasional exception at Thanksgiving and Christmas or our anniversary if the duck is locally raised. I do eat fish and seafood, so I try to come up with alternatives and substitutions when available. I serve local organic eggs and cheeses to my family who can tolerate dairy (My husband recently had a heart attack, and I need to watch my own cholesterol so I am careful, but have been known to let a little piece of really good cheese accidentally fall on my plate!). I believe strongly that eating in a way that is good for our planet is also good for our bodies, and I try to educated myself about our food sources! I cook by the seasons and draw on inspiration from the strong and talented women in my family who came before me, as well as the youth in the family who look at the world with fresh eyes. Food links us all, whether sharing a meal, cooking it together, or writing about it for others to enjoy. I love taking an old recipe and giving it a modern spin, especially if I can make it a littler healthier and use foods that are kinder to the Earth and to our bodies. I believe strongly in sustainable, delicious eating of whole foods, and the wonderful flavors we have at our fingertips! And finally, I love conversing with all the talented cooks and chefs out there who dot the globe! It's a wonderful, world full of culinary pen pals, and I cherish them all! XXXOOO Dorothy
    Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen says:

    These look and sound really delicious Bernie!

  4. D. Wallace Peach – 30 Miles beyond the edge of civilization, Oregon – I'm an adventurer in writing, peering under rocks in my garden for secret magic. I can't stop writing. My stories want to explode from my head. They demand my attention and surge from my fingertips faster than I can put them to paper. I love what I do.
    D. Wallace Peach says:

    This was an inspiring post, Bernadette. I’d love my mom and brother to visit me tomorrow, and now I have something to make for them for the table. Happy Dios De Los Muertos.

      • D. Wallace Peach – 30 Miles beyond the edge of civilization, Oregon – I'm an adventurer in writing, peering under rocks in my garden for secret magic. I can't stop writing. My stories want to explode from my head. They demand my attention and surge from my fingertips faster than I can put them to paper. I love what I do.
        D. Wallace Peach says:


  5. Darlene – British Columbia, Canada – Writer of children's stories, short stories and travel articles. https://twitter.com/#!/supermegawoman http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=201634059868404&id=631897250&ref=notif&notif_t=like#!/pages/Darlene-Foster-Writer/362236842733
    Darlene says:

    Happy Halloween and Day of the Dead. Thanks for the great recipe.

  6. Awakening Wonders – Everyday life is filled with wondrous things and embraceable moments, but only if we allow ourselves to be fully awakened. I invite you to join me as I share passionate life adventures and ramblings that awaken my spirit. I look forward to awakening your senses to the simple, joyous wonders that are all around us. I feel that we are destined to become soulful adventurers!
    Awakening Wonders says:

    Oh, I will put on my apron to make this anise orange pan de muertos – the flavors must be delightful!

  7. the Painted Apron – Life is all about creativity for me, as long as I'm creating something I am happy! I hope I will inspire your daily life and give you ideas for your own wonderful creations!
    the Painted Apron says:

    Thank you for explaining the Day of the Dead Bernadette, yes it would be a lovely tradition to start with our families. Your bread sounds delicious!

  8. Somehow, I missed this post last week! I’ve heard of this bread but never have made it. The combination of anise and orange here sounds irresistible; did you save me a slice? 😉

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