Shaping bread dough is a time-honored science perfected daily at panaderías across the country, including El Rey Foods, a four-store, family-owned retailer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, since 1978.
El Rey’s bakery manager Caesar Morales and baker Jesus Lopez concentrate on shaping loaves of dough throughout the day, perfecting the process for the customers.
In late September, El Rey promotes Hispanic National Heritage Month, which continues through Oct. 15, and regularly calls attention to festive breads. Every week, the supermarket company promotes Fiesta Fridays online on its Facebook page, calling attention to specials like Nutella churros.
At La Luz Bakery in Round Lake, Illinois, owner Esteban Montes points out that they do “extremely well” with Pan de Muerto in late October through early November.
“We get more business for sweet breads during the fall,” Montes says. “We do all kinds of shapes – round breads, rectangular.” The breads in the shapes of human bodies are very popular for Dias de los Muertos on Nov. 1-2.
BakeMark’s Hispanic line Trigal Dorado offers the best of the traditional flavors without compromise. So as the industry heads into the season of Día de Muertos, utilize the Bizcocho Mix and bring Pan de Muerto as a way to boost your sales.
The Hispanic community will partake in their traditional fall celebration of family members who have passed soon. Día de Muertos, the multi day celebration, encompasses celebration and with that celebration comes food! Most notable of these foods is Pan de Muerto. With the slight zest of orange flavoring, this Hispanic sweet bread entails bone shaped pieces that adorn the top.
Here are some preparation steps to follow:
Bread: Scale into 4 pieces of 1 LB 4 oz. each. Round up and place on a paper lined pan (2 to 3 breads per pan).
Bones: Scale 12 – 2 oz. pieces for the bones. Roll the pieces by hands into thin logs long enough to be stretched across the top of each bread. Pinch the dough at 5 to 6 different places along each log to form the bones.
Skulls: Scale 4 – 0.5 oz. pieces. Roll them into small balls.
Brush each bread with egg wash. Stretch the long bone pieces across the entire bread, distributing them evenly and intersecting them in the middle. Place the small dough balls separately on the pans for the time being.
Proof to almost full size for 45 to 60 minutes After proofing place the skulls centered on top of each bread. Sprinkle some BakeSense Sesame Seeds if desired. Bake at 330-360°F until light golden brown for approx. 22-30 minutes depending on your oven type. After baking, coat with plain or pink granulated sugar while still warm if desired.
Pan de Muerto is characterized by a round shape with a soft texture similar to a bun. Traditionally, the top of Muerto bread depicts the grave of deceased ones.
For decoration, locals use excess dough to create a skull shape over the crust. The recipe for Pan de Muerto is as basic as other sweetbreads, with the addition of ground anise.
For the glazing layer, bakers whip up a simple mixture of sugar with orange juice and zest. When the Pan de Muerto is ready for baking, they lightly brush the crust with an orange-flavor glaze.
Sweet bread options
Originating in Spain and Latin American countries, buñuelos are similar to a dough version of the fritter (foods fried in batter). People often serve the dish with a variety of toppings; however, Mexican locals like using Piloncillo syrup (unrefined cane sugar syrup) for buñuelos, according to lacademie.com.
In Mexico, the buñuelos are served differently as locals usually feature a bit of anise to the dough. When served, vendors will sprinkle some additional powdered sugar over the buñuelos. The dish is most common during Christmas or Las Posadas, from Dec. 16-24.
The buñuelos dough is a simple mix of all-purpose flour with warm water, baking powder, and salt. You can use a simple topping of sugar and cinnamon.
You only need around 60 seconds to fry the buñuelos on each side, so it turns to a golden brown color.
Flavors of fall
The flavors of fall are known to be warm and cozy. BakeMark recommends pumpkin and cinnamon flavors combined with vibrant colors as the perfect way to usher in the new season.
These delicious flavors don’t have to be limited to just dessert. BakeMark also offers pumpkin seeds that can help you make delectable loaves of bread and other baked delights to celebrate the season.
BakeMark also offers a cinnamon roll mix from Westco. This mix will have you whipping up some amazing breakfast treats quickly and easily without sacrificing quality. In addition, BakeSense Pumpkin is the perfect addition to pumpkin muffins which will also be a breakfast hit.
During the Day of the Dead holiday (Oct. 31 – Nov. 2), Mexicans honor their loved ones who have passed away, and leave them offerings (“ofrendas”) at their gravesites or at altars made at home. Although this tradition is originally rooted in the central and southern parts of the country, families now celebrate the holiday all throughout Mexico, and even in other countries, too, according to Hispanic food blogger Mely Martinez.
The offerings left for the dead usually consist of what that person enjoyed when they were alive. In addition to the deceased’s favorite food and drink, a loaf of Pan de Muerto is also placed as an offering. So, besides being a delicious sweet bread, what makes Pan de Muerto unique is its special role in this important ceremony.
While the family members are the ones who eat the Pan de Muerto physically, it is believed that when the spirit returns during the Day of the Dead, it can be nourished by the “essence” of the bread (and any other offerings that have been left for it).
As for the shape, there are countless differing stories and explanations, but most will tell you that the pieces forming a cross are meant to symbolize the bones of the dead. On top of the bun is a small ball or nub, which some say is a teardrop, representing the tears shed for the dead. Others say it represents a skull, while still others say it represents the heart.
Pan de Muerto can be found covered in white sugar, red sugar, sesame seeds, sprinkles, or simply brushed with an egg wash.
The bread comes in different forms, too. Depending on the area, you might find Pan de Muerto shaped like figures of people, animals, or in a crescent moon shape. The ingredients and flavoring of the bread can change, as well, but most of the time it is a yeast-heavy bread flavored with orange and/or anise.
This sweet bread shaped like a roll and topped with sugar also has some “bone decorations” made out of the same dough representing the bones of the dead. Some people will eat it while visiting the graves of the relatives long gone as well as other food that was their favorite while they were alive
Families will gather to remember loved ones who have passed on throughout the day. This is also a day where many Mexican communities come together and both share their memories of friends, family members, and others they knew while eating food and lay offerings on the ofrendas (home alters).
In the evening of October 31, there’s a traditional ritual called “alumbrado” where people get together to light candles on both sides of their homes. That way when they come back from visiting family tombs all day long they can see their path until morning. It symbolizes the departure of spirits into heaven during the day as well as a prayer to help bring them safely home again before sunrise if possible.
This day starts with masses at churches or temples followed by more community events like parades in towns that are masked dancers,
Day of the Dead is full of tradition and celebration. It's easy for anyone who wishes to learn more about Mexican culture or simply enjoy food and music with family members all day long. You'll want to make sure you don't miss this day because it’s an event that should be both fun and informative.
With the help of BakeMark’s Trigal Dorado line, bakeries help customers celebrate this special and traditional holiday in no time! It’s as easy as adding water, yeast and margarine to the mixes and popping them into the oven. With the demand you will have, this time saving mix will deliver consistent, quality, authentic Pan de Muerto.
There is an array of traditional Hispanic bread mixes to choose from. From bizcocho to mantecadas, all of these delicious treats will have your customers smiling with delight.
BakeMark strives to help keep these important Hispanic traditions alive. Not every baker is intimately familiar with Hispanic and Mexican baking traditions, but BakeMark’s Trigal Dorado line makes it simple without sacrificing quality, and provides the authentic flavors so you can give your community the bread they can continue breaking together.