Early November in Mexico is a time for celebration, but it is unlike most that you’ll ever see. El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is a time in Mexico to honor loved ones that are no longer with you. This is done by sharing and enjoying their favorite food and beverages, as well as creating a warm, soft bread with hints of citrus and notes of anise to eat or leave at grave sites. The bread is shaped into a ball, but some of the dough is separated to layer on top with shapes of bones or a skull! If you ever want to find a way to celebrate the memory of a loved one, delicious and delicately soft bread is definitely a good way to go.
- 100 g mature sourdough starter
- 150 g bread flour
- 50 g whole wheat four
- 180 g warm water
FINAL DOUGH MIX
- 300 g all-purpose flour
- 200 g bread flour
- 75 g brown sugar
- 250 g whole milk
- 10 g ground anise
- 200 g levain
- Zest of 1/2 large orange
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- 1 egg
- Splash milk
- Pinch salt
Combine all ingredients from the Final Dough Mix section:
STEP 1: Follow the instructions for Mixing Dough: Method 2 (see first page of this PDF) to incorporate all ingredients for your initial mix.
STEP 2: Cover your bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let ferment at room temperature for 4 hours. Transfer to the fridge for an additional 12 hours.
To shape and proof the dough:
STEP 1: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
STEP 2: On a clean work surface dusted with all-purpose flour, turn out your dough and divide it into two equal pieces. From each piece, separate 50 grams of dough and set aside.
STEP 3: Shape each large piece using the rounding technique (see Shaping Dough: Method 2—Rounding, page 28). Set aside.
STEP 4: Separate one 15-gram piece from each small piece and set aside. You should now have two 15-gram pieces and two 35-gram pieces.
STEP 5: Roll each of the 35-gram pieces into as long a log as possible. Cut each log in half. Use your knuckles to roll each log back and forth, creating indentations in the dough.
STEP 6: Shape each of the two 15-gram pieces using the balling up technique (see Shaping Dough: Method 3—Balling Up, page 31).
STEP 7: On each large, rounded piece of dough, overlay two indented dough logs in an X, tucking the ends of the logs underneath the round. Then place one 15-gram ball on top, where the logs cross.
STEP 8: Place your breads on the lined sheet and proof for 3 hours (see Proofing Dough: Method 3—Loaf Tin/Sheet Pan, page 33).
To bake the buns:
STEP 1: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
STEP 2: Whisk together one egg, a splash of milk, and a pinch of salt. Brush each pan de muerto gently with the egg wash.
STEP 3: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar when they come out of the oven, let cool, and enjoy!
YIELD: 2 PANES DE MUERTO
Mixing: Final Dough
Enriched and Some Non-Enriched Rustic Breads
I mix my enriched doughs differently than most rustic doughs. Why? Generally, because they have a much lower hydration and it is easier to incorporate everything at once without ending up with a soup (except the brioche, which is best done with a stand mixer!). However, some of the rustic breads recipes have a lower hydration and it makes more sense to use this method as well. Pay attention to the type of fat in the recipe and the type of consistency the bread should have. I have never had a problem using fats interchangeably, so if you don’t want to use butter, substitute any type of oil into your mix instead.
Mixing Dough: Method 2
Enriched Breads and Some Non-Enriched Rustic Breads
For an enriched dough recipe, combine the ingredients in a medium bowl. Using your hands, squeeze everything together and then turn the dough out onto a work surface. Knead the dough using the palm of your hand to push it forward, and then your fingers to pull it back toward your hand. Repeat this process until you have a smooth surface. Don’t be afraid to rip this dough while you knead with your palm and then bring it back together again.