November 1 isn’t just the day you steal all your kids’ Halloween candies when they’re not looking. It’s also Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, a popular cultural event in Mexico.
Oh, Mexico. I could do with some of that Ole right now. And by Ole I mean sun, sand, tacos and margaritas. Back to regular programming…
Day of the Dead is celebrated across the country. All throughout, bright and colourful altars are put up at night and cemeteries become even more solemn than usual as visitors pray to their loved in the glow of hundreds of candles.
Some cities organize cultural festivals and artistic contests such as drawing, photography, and the best Pain de Muerto (bread of the dead). There are also costume contests with prizes going to the best representation of Jose Guadalupe Posada’s Catrina or “Her Majesty’s Death”.
Mexicans place offerings at altars to signify the four main elements of nature—
Earth: fruits that nourish the soul
Wind: shredded paper that due to its lightness moves with the breeze
Water: to quench the thirst of the souls visiting the altars
Fire: the candles that are lit for each soul remembered and also for each soul that’s been forgotten
Other items that are placed on the altars are traditional Pan de Muertos, candles, sugar skulls, pumpkin sweets, fruit, water, pulque mescal or tequila, a bowl of salt, and a cross marking the four points of the compass so that the soul will finds it’s way coming and going back.
How much fun does that sound? To capture a little bit of your own Day of the Dead, try baking a Pain de Muerto
For the dough:
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
7 tbsp butter melted then cooled
5 1/4 tbsp yeast
3 1/4 tbsp grated orange peel
1 tsp orange blossom extract
10 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 3/4 cups dark chocolate
14 tbsp vegetable oil
WHAT YOU’LL DO:
For the dough:
- Blend flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a blender. Pour out into a bowl and add milk and eggs. Begin to knead the ingredients together. Once they’re mixed, gradually add the butter, kneading until dought is soft and elastic. Add the orange peel and orange blossom extract at the end.
- Shape the dough into a smooth ball and let rise in an oiled bowl until it’s doubled in size about 1 hr.
- Remove the dough, punch it down, and cut off some of it for the knob and shaping into the ridges. Shape the rest into a large round loaf and place on to a baking sheet.
- To form the ridges: roll out a small ball of dough into a tube. Place on the rounded surfaces of the ball of dough. Use the last bit to make a small ball on the top.
- Cover and place in a warm, dry location and let rise for 1 hours until it doubles in size.
- Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when it’s tapped on the bottom.
- Brush or drizzle with glaze when it comes out of the oven.
For the glaze:
Popular: Melt the butter, mix in the granulated sugar. Brush onto the bread.
Original: Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, add the melted butter and drizzle over the top of the bread
Traditional: (before baking) Mix the eggs with a fork. Brush over the bread and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Recipe supplied by the Mexican Tourism Board. Post your own Pain de Muerto and join the conversation using the hashtags #LiveItToBelieveIt and @WeVisitMexico on Twitter or @DescubreMiMexico on Instagram.