"Bread of the Dead" is a special type of bread that is baked in Mexico for the Day of the Dead (a holiday dedicated to the memory of deceased relatives is traditionally held there on November 1-2). And although in terms of dates it practically coincides with All Saints Day, it is not at all the same as a fun fancy dress Halloween.
The main feature of baking is that it is a dessert one, i.e. sweet. Usually, vanilla and orange culinary essences are added to bread, and it has a unique taste and aroma. Sweetness is also achieved due to the fact that the crust is abundantly sprinkled with sugar (and not only the usual white ─ see the photo). The loaf of “bread of the dead” is round in shape, with two criss-crossing strips of dough on top, symbolizing bones, and a small ball ─ “skull”. Traditionally, these pastries are served with hot chocolate or Mexican atoll tacos. Let's try?
1/2 cup water
3.5 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. l. dry fast-acting yeast
110 g butter
100 g baking powder
1 tsp. orange essence
1 tsp anise extract
1/4 tsp salt
icing sugar for decoration
Take two oranges, cut off the zest. Squeeze out half a glass of juice (add water if necessary). Heat half a glass of water to 45 degrees. Mix two tablespoons of flour and ½ teaspoon of sugar. Add yeast, water. Then gently stir everything with a spoon for a few minutes until the yeast rises.
Take a large saucepan and pour the remaining flour and sugar into it. Make a small hole in the middle and add butter, eggs, yolks, juice and orange zest. Mix everything well with a spoon until smooth. Add orange essence and anise extract, then mix everything with your hands. Transfer the dough to a floured board. Continue kneading for 15 minutes, until the dough is sticky. The dough should be so elastic that it can be stretched without tearing.
Roll the dough into a ball and place in a glass or metal container. Dampen a thin towel with warm water and cover the container. If the room is not warm enough, preheat the oven to a low temperature and place the dough in a bowl there. Let the dough rise in warmth until it doubles in size, which may take 30 to 60 minutes. While the dough is rising, brush the baking dish with the margarine.
Remove the dough from the bowl and stir for a few minutes, add salt. Knead the dough thoroughly. Cut the dough into five equal pieces. Four parts will make the bread itself, and a fifth will be used for decoration. If you want smaller portions, divide each portion of the dough in half. Make a ball out of each piece and place it in a baking dish. Place the molds in the oven, placing two balls on the baking sheet so that they do not touch each other.
Divide the remaining dough into four equal portions (or eight if you are making small portions). To prepare the decoration, it is necessary to stretch the dough into a rope about 20 cm long and shape it with light pressure of your fingers so that it resembles bones. Place two "bones" crosswise on each ball, place a small ball of dough on top and press lightly with your fingers. To make the bread soft and fluffy, brush the dough with a little water using a pastry brush. You can also sprinkle sesame seeds on the bread.
Leave the dough in a warm place for a while to rise. The dough should double in volume!
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, bake the bread for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove the bread from the oven. For the glaze, melt 2 tbsp. l. butter and using a brush, brush thoroughly on the baked goods and sprinkle with sugar. Let the bread cool, then remove it from the mold and serve.
Photo: Getty Images
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