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Mexican Pan de Muerto Recipe

One of the best parts of Día de los Muertos is the mouth-watering food. From the tamales, calabaza en tacha (candied pumpkin), churros, and sugar skulls, there's no shortage of tasty treats to go around. Here is a recipe for one of the holiday's most popular foods: Pan de Muerto. It just wouldn't be Día de los Muertos without this staple.

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Nearly everyone in central and southern Mexico enjoys pan de muerto—translated literally as "bread of the dead"—in early November as an important element of the annual Day of the Dead celebration. Most family and communal ofrendas (offerings for the beloved deceased) include at least one loaf left for the enjoyment of visiting souls.

Many varieties of pan de muerto exist, with their shape, texture, and flavor particular to one or more geographical and cultural regions in Mexico. This recipe, common in Mexico City, yields a sweet, semi-spherical loaf decorated with pieces of dough in shapes that represent bones and tears.

Nowadays, many Mexicans buy pan de muerto from a bakery, but you can help keep the delicious tradition of homemade pan de muerto alive with this recipe.

Ingredients
4 ounces butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons whole aniseed
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups flour (white bread or all-purpose, divided)
4 large eggs (at room temperature)
1 1/4 cups warm water (not to exceed 110 F)
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 (1/4-ounce) packets instant dry yeast