Easy Pan de Muerto

Easy Pan de Muerto

Easy Pan de Muerto or Bread of the Dead is a delicious way to celebrate the Mexican holiday of ‘Day Of The Dead’. This orange-scented sweet bread, decorated with knobby ‘bones’ and covered in sugar, is lovely with a hot cup of coffee or Mexican hot chocolate.

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Wooden tray with four loaves of Easy Pan de Muerto beside a mug of Mexican hot chocolate and a Mexican chocolate making whisk.

This recipe is NOT an authentic recipe, but instead an easier take on the traditional way of making this sweet bread. No yeast, no kneading, no proofing. Instead, a can of refrigerated crescent rolls makes this recipe foolproof. 

So, turn on the Disney movie “CoCo”, which explains the holiday in a beautiful and meaningful way, grab those kiddos by the hand and allow them to make their own loaf of Pan de Muerto.

Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto is Spanish for ‘bread of the dead’. It’s typically a sweet, yeasted bread that is flavored with orange and/or anise and rolled into a round bun. Bone-shaped strips in an ‘X’ top the buns, sometimes with a round ball topping it all. The entire bun is brushed with an orange-flavored glaze and covered in sugar. The bread is intended as an offering (ofrenda) to honor loved ones who have passed. 

All About Dia de los Muertos (Day Of The Dead)

The holiday is rich in traditions and symbolism. It spans the first two days of November – the first day for children, the second for adults. It’s a life-affirming day of love and respect for the family.

Alters are built and families display photos of their loved ones who’ve passed. The altars are decorated with colorful tissue paper flags (papel picado), candles, marigold petals, and the favorite foods and drinks of the ones who died. The story is that the foods will nourish them on their journey to visit their living relatives during the holiday. The marigold petals guide the visiting souls back to their resting place at the end of the event and the colorful tissue flags are a nod to the fragility of life

Even the shape of the Pan de Muerto is meaningful. It is thought that the round loaf represents the circle of life. The knobby strips forming a cross or an ‘X’ represents the bones of the dead. The knobby parts of the strips are said to be the tears for those who have passed.

It’s a beautiful holiday and worth celebrating, even if you aren’t of Mexican descent. 

Ingredients Needed

  • Refrigerated crescent dough – I like using the Pillsbury Grands! Brand. They’re slightly larger and a larger Pan de Muerto is never a bad thing.
  • Oranges – both for juice and zest.
  • Milk – you can use whole milk, cream, or even skim. It gives the bread a pretty shine.
  • Sugar – plain old granulated sugar is all you need.
Wooden board with a stack of easy Pan de Muerto breads for the Day Of The Dead celebration.

Steps To Make This Recipe

  1.  Unroll the dough.
  2. Remove two crescents of dough and set aside.
  3. Sprinkle the rest of the dough with the orange zest.
  4. Roll the dough into a ball and place it on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Mix together the orange juice and milk.
  6. Brush the mixture over the round dough.
  7. Cut each reserved crescent in half and roll each piece into a knobby, bumpy log.
  8. Place the logs on the round loaf in the shape of a cross.
  9. Brush the cross with the milk mixture.
  10. Bake and enjoy.

Ideas For Your Day Of The Dead Menu

Print
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Wooden board with a stack of Pan de Muerto breads to celebrate the Day Of The Dead holiday.

Easy Pan de Muerto


  • Author: mbrinkley3717
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x

Description

Easy Pan de Muerto or Bread of the Dead is a delicious way to celebrate the Mexican holiday of ‘Day Of The Dead’. This orange-scented sweet bread, decorated with knobby ‘bones’ and covered in sugar, is lovely with a hot cup of coffee or Mexican hot chocolate.


Ingredients

Scale

1 can (12-ounces) refrigerated large size crescent rolls (8 count), I used Pillsbury Grands! 

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

¼ cup orange juice

¼ cup milk

½ cup sugar


Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, unroll the crescent dough.

Remove two crescent sections and set them aside.

Flatten the remaining crescent sections and sprinkle the grated orange zest evenly on top of the dough.

Use your hands to shape the dough into a ball and place it on the prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice and milk.

Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the milk mixture over the top of the bread.

With a pizza cutter, slice the reserved crescent sections in half so that you have four pieces.

Shape each strip into a log that will stretch over the top of the round loaf. Use your fingers to roll the strip creating thicker and thinner parts to it forming four little ‘knobs”.

Place the shaped logs on top of the round bread to form an ‘X’.

Brush the ‘X’ with the milk mixture.

Sprinkle the sugar liberally on top of the bread.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet.

Remove the bread to a wire rack to cool completely.

Slice each round into four (4) pieces and serve.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: easy Pan de Muerto, Bread of the dead, Day of the dead, easy bread recipes, croissant dough, refrigerated crescent dough, kid-friendly recipes

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