Pan De Muertos (All Saints and All Souls Day Bread)
Pan De Muertos (All Saints and All Souls Day Bread) recipe
unbleached all-purpose flour
plus extra for bowl and work surface
yeast, active dry
plus 2 tbsp
for greasing bowl
softened, plus extra for greasing baking sheets
unbleached all-purpose flour
plus extra for board and bowl
and 2 tbsp water, lightly beaten
orange flower water
For the Starter: Put the flour, salt sugar, and yeast into a mixing bowl and gradually beat in the water and eggs.
(Mexican bakers do not bother to cream the yeast, knowing that it is fresh -- do it if you wish).
Continue beating until the dough forms a cohesive mass around the dough hook; it should be sticky, elastic and shiny -- about 5 minutes.
Turn out onto a floured board and form into a round cushion shape.
Butter and flour a clean bowl.
Place the dough in it and cover with greased plastic wrap and a towel and set aside in a warm place -- ideally 70F -- until the dough doubles in volume, about 2 hours.
The Final Dough:
Liberally grease 4 baking sheets (for both breads).
Put the starter, sugar and butter into a mixing bow and mix well, gradually beating in the flour and egg yolks alternately.
Beat in the water and flavoring -- you should have a slightly sticky, smooth, shiny dough that just holds its shape (since, eggs, flour, climates, differ, you may need to reduce or increase the liquid).
Turn the dough into a lightly floured surface and form into a round cushion shape.
Wash out mixing bowl, butter and flour it, and replace the dough in it.
Cover with greased plastic wrap and a towel and set aside in a warm place -- ideally about 70F -- for about 1½ hours, until it almost doubles in size, or set aside overnight in the bottom of the refrigerator.
Bring the dough up to room temperature before attempting to work with it.
Turn out on to a lightly floured board and divided the dough into two equal pieces.
Set one aside for forming later. Take three quarters of the dough and roll it into a smooth ball.
Press it out to a circle about 8 in in diameter -- it should be about 1 in thick.
Press around the edge to form a narrow ridge -- like the brim of as hat -- and transfer to one of the greased baking sheets.
Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place (about 70F) to rise half its size again -- about 1 hour.
Taking the remaining 1 quarter of the dough, divide it into four equal parts.
Roll one of the parts into a smooth ball.
Roll the other three into strips 8 in long, with four knobs each, one on each end and two about 1.
5 in from the one at the end (for bones).
Transfer the four pieces to another greased tray, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and set aside to rise for about 1 hour.
Repeat these steps to form the second bread with the remainder of the dough.
Heat the oven to 375℉ (190℃).
At the end of the rising period, carefully place the strips of dough forming the bones across the main part of the bread, place the round ball in the middle to form the skull, and press your finger in hard to form the eye sockets.
Brush the surface of the dough well with the beaten yolks and bake at the top of the oven until well browned and springy -- about 15 minutes.
Turn off the oven, open the door, and let the bread sit there for 5 minutes more.
Remove from the oven, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle well with sugar.