Pan de Muerto
5½ cups All-Purpose Flour
5 Large Eggs, room temperature
¾ cups Whole Milk, warmed to be between 90 to 110 degrees max
½ cup Infused Butter, room temperature
½ cup Vegetable Shortening, room temperature
2½ tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
½ cup Sugar + 3 tablespoons Sugar for yeast
1 teaspoon Pink Salt
Zest of 1 Orange
1½ tablespoons Orange Extract
Garnish: Infused Butter & Sugar for coating
Optional: Pinch of Star Anise, grated
Making the Dough
In a small bowl, add half of your milk along with the 3 tablespoons of sugar and whisk to combine.
Add in your yeast and mix again. Let sit for 10-15 minutes so the yeast can activate.
In a medium bowl, add the rest of your milk along with the eggs, orange zest, and orange extract. If you’re using the star anise you can add it in here as well.
Whisk to break up the egg yolks, then add in your shortening and infused butter and continue to whisk together. It is okay if it is still a little lumpy after mixing.
Add your activated yeast to the bowl and whisk to combine.
In a large bowl mix together your flour, salt and remaining sugar.
Make a small well in the middle of your flour then add in the wet ingredients.
Begin to mix the dough together by hand, making sure to hydrate all of the flour.
Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, lifting and smacking the dough occasionally. This help forms gluten and makes your final dough spongey and soft. Keep doing this until it comes together and no longer sticks to the side of the bowl.
Remove the dough from the bowl and grease the bowl with butter or shortening, then place the dough back into the bowl. Cover and let rise for 2-2.5 hours or until it doubles in size
After the dough has doubled, remove it from the bowl and place onto a lightly floured surface.
Separate the dough into 4 equal pieces, then set 1 of them aside. This extra dough will be used for the decorations on top of the bread.
Shape the other 3 pieces of dough into a flat bottomed semi-sphere and place onto a parchment lined baking tray.
Preheat oven to 340°F.
Shaping the Decorations
Now take the extra dough that we set aside and place it onto your surface, add 1 tablespoon of flour to it. Separate this piece into 4 equal new pieces, again placing 1 them to the side.
Use the remaining 3 to make the bone shapes for the top of the bread. Each single piece of dough will make 2 bones that will be draped over the final loaf in a cross pattern.
Separate the last piece of dough(the one set aside) into 3 round balls, for topping the bread.
Now you’re ready to assemble! Brush the top of the big dough loaves with a little bit of water, but only where you want the bones to stick to. The water will act as a binder to help everything stick together.
Drape over the first bone, then the second, then add a drop more of water to where they intersect and place the rolled dough ball on top. Again using a bit of water to make everything stick.
Bake at 340° Fahrenheit for 20-23 minutes or until the top becomes golden. The bread will have a hollow sound to it when it’s done.
Once the bread has fully cooled, brush with melted butter and top with sugar. Enjoy!