Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dia De Los Muertos

Ya know, all of those big Halloween dreams of mine, sorta fell flat--I've been dancing with the blues a bit recently, and just didn't feel up to a party. But on Saturday, I got the itch to build up a beautiful altar for Day of the Dead, and that's just what I did. We've been cheating and enjoying the spread since Sunday morning, but I think it's OK to keep it going, since we're enjoying it so much. Dazee thinks we should keep it up all year, so maybe that's just what we'll do, but for the record the holiday is celebrated in Mexico from November 1st (all saints day) to November 2nd (all souls day).

The big Mexican papier mache calavera (skull), I've had for years, but the little calaveras I whipped up quickly. I just cut skull shapes out of thick paper (homemade) and covered them with glue and fabric. Then using my very hot and trusting glue gun, I edged with hot plastic and covered in glitter and lace. Hot glue's a great way to keep glitter to a minimum, Elmer'll get that stuff everywhere.

I worked on the garden a bit on Sunday too, and brought in some branches from the cassia, since it's just started to bloom, little bunches of pentas and some bougainvillea that I practically hacked down to the ground.

Then tonight, I made some Pan de Muertos, which is a very traditional bread for this holiday. Most every recipe I googled, had about 7 eggs in it, but Sarita from the PPK, recommends a recipe that only calls for two. The bread came out great, with a few changes here and there, and I feel really happy with the results. Happy feels good.

Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead)Makes one 12 inch loaf with enough dough for decorating

What You Need:
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole anise seed
  • 3/4 cup unbleached granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup (four tablespoons) Earth Balance
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup tepid water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy yogurt (regular would work too)
  • 1 tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer (dry)
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons organic orange zest, divided
  • 1 1/2-2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/8 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (zest the orange first, then juice)
What You Do:
  1. In the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook, combine the whole wheat flour, yeast, salt, anise and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar.
  2. Heat the Earth Balance and almond milk over medium low heat, until the EB is melted. Remove from heat and add the warm water. Bring the temperature to 110F.
  3. Add the warm liquid to the flour and anise mixture and beat to combine. Add the yogurt, Ener-g, 1 tablespoon of the zest, and continue to beat until well blended.
  4. Add in 1/2 cup of white flour and mix to combine. Continue to add the white flour in 1/2 cup increments until the dough is soft and firm, but still a bit tacky (mine was ready with the smaller amount).
  5. Knead for ten minutes by hand or five with a dough hook.
  6. Gather the ball into a dough and let rise in a ceramic bowl covered with a tea towel in a warm area, until doubled in size about 2 hours. (I put mine in the oven with the pilot light lit).
  7. Lightly flour a baking sheet. Punch down the dough, and form into your desired shape on top of the sheet. Traditionally they're shaped into skulls, or round loaves with bones on top. Recover with the towel, and let rise another hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 350F and either transfer the dough to a preheated baking stone, or bake on the floured sheet until golden brown about 35-45 minutes.
  9. While the dough bakes, make a syrup glaze. Combine the orange juice, 1/8 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of zest in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook without stirring for two minutes. Remove from heat.
  10. When the bread is done, let cool slightly and coat with glaze while still warm. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/8 cup of granulated sugar*.
*To color sugar for decoration, put the sugar in a bowl and add a tiny bit of Wilton paste to the sugar, kneading it in with your hands.



  1. hi kittee, i love your altar! its beautiful. day of the dead is very special. you've inspired me to go dig up some favorite photos i took at a DOTD procession in SF few years ago.

  2. Sorry you have been down lately. Hope everything is ok.

  3. what a wonderful dia de los muertos celebration. i wanted to encompass all these different things (mexican, irish, pagan, etc.) aspects of halloween, but didn't really get around to it. next year, though, definitely, because i think this is a lovely way to remember friends and family who are no longer here.
    and, i'm so jealous of you that you live somewhere where lush flowers are still blooming in your garden!

  4. that's a really stunning ofrenda and the pan looks amazingly festive too. makes me sad i didn't get myself together to do anything for halloween or dia de los muertos.

  5. Beautiful altar and the bread looks amazing thank you for the recipe.


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