I’ve been celebrating Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) since I was a young girl. As I get older, the holiday grows in importance. Over the years I have lost many who are near and dear to me. Death is such a sad, wild reality, but one we must all face. I have spent many days mourning the death of loved ones lost and find Dia de los Muertos is a happy medium. Its a day to honor and remember a departed loved one’s spirit by offering their favorite food or beverage. Many people build private alters in their homes (we did), and some build them at events for remembrance and festivity. This weekend we went to the 12th annual Dia De Los Muertos Celebration at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In my opinion it is one of the BEST events that takes place here in Los Angeles. I go every year and wouldn’t think of missing it! You can expect everything from Aztec dancers, Mayan rituals, paper mache skeleton procession, costume contest, ballet dancing, performance art, craft and art vendors, yummy mexican food, micheladas, and some of the best altars you’ve ever seen! Here is a nice collection of photos from the event. If you don’t live in Los Angeles, Google a Dia de los Muertos event in your city. The actual holiday takes place Nov. 2nd.
All photos taken by: Mando Lopez and Nicole Presley
Pan de muerto is traditionally offered to the spirits in the upcoming days leading to Dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead), which is celebrated Nov. 2nd. You can leave it at the gravesite of your loved one along with their favorite food or at a homemade altar. Here is a simple recipe for you to make your own. BTW….. it’s not just for the departed, the living find it tasty too!
Ingredients for pan de muerto:
1/4 – cup milk
4 – tablespoons butter
1/3 – cup sugar
1/2 – teaspoon salt
1 – package active dry yeast
1/4 – cup warm/hot water
2 – eggs (beaten)
3 – cups all-purpose flour
1/2 – teaspoon anise seed
1/4 – cup orange juice
1/4 – teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 – cups sugar plus 2 tablespoons
In a sauce pan over a low medium flame melt butter and stir in milk. Bring to slight boil and remove from heat. Add in 1/3 cup sugar and salt, and mix well to combine. Set to the side.
In a very large bowl, mix yeast and warm/hot water together and stir until yeast is dissolved. Let it rest for 15 minutes to cool down then add the milk mixture.
In a medium bowl mix flour and anise seed together . Then add flour and anise seed mixture to yeast/milk mix, and gradually work in the beaten eggs. Mix until dough forms into a ball.
Flour your work surface well and place dough in the middle. Knead for 5 minutes or until dough is nice and soft. Place it back into the large bowl and cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm place (inside your oven when it’s off) for an hour and a half to two hours. Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet and set to the side.
Then remove dough from large bowl and punch it down and shape it into one large loaf or several small loaves. Reserve a small portion of dough to make a knob on top of loaf or braids around the loaf, or little strips to represent bones. Form your loaf then place on greased baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap or kitchen towel for another hour (in a warm place) or until it’s doubled in size.
Then preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. If you make small loaves then 35 minutes…. if you make one big one 45 minutes. About 5 minutes before the pan de muerto is done baking….. make the glaze.
In a small saucepan over a medium flame add orange juice, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and remove from flame. Set to the side. Next remove pan de muerto from oven and let cool slightly, then brush with glaze. Then sprinkle glazed bread with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar! Celebrate Dia de los muertos by offering your loved one a pan de muerto this year!
Con mucho amor!