Pan de Muerto

November 1 is the Dia de los Muertos holiday, celebrated by many people here in California. It’s a day to remember and honor the lives of relatives who have passed from this life. I found this recipe for Pan de Muerto, a traditional bread baked for the occasion. It’s a soft, orange-scented brioche, shaped into a round loaf with bone-shaped dough pieces draped over it. Of course we had to try making it, and it was delicious. ¡Feliz Dia de los Muertos!


1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 cup hot water (100-110F)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup plant-based butter like Miyoko’s
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp orange extract or 1 tbsp orange zest
3 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Powdered sugar for sprinkling


In a small bowl, gently mix the yeast, 1 tsp brown sugar, and hot water. Let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom and form a thick foam.

In a large bowl, mix together the 3/4 cup brown sugar and plant-based butter. Mash with a fork until it’s nicely creamed together, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Next, add the salt, orange extract, yeast mixture, and 1 cup flour.

Mix well, then add 1/2 cup of flour at a time until it’s all incorporated. Knead by hand for 5 minutes, then cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and put it in a sunny spot to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to knock out the air. Pinch off one 2″ ball for the top of the loaf and 4 similar sized pieces to make bone-shaped pieces of dough.

Shape the rest of the dough into a round loaf. Use a bit of water to stick the ball to the top of the loaf and the bone-shaped pieces down the sides, in a cross shape. Cover lightly with a cut-open plastic bag and let it rise again for 45 minutes to double again.

Brush a light egg wash over the top of the risen dough if you like, then rise for 15 more minutes while the oven is pre-heating to 350F.

Bake for 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and the internal temperature measures at least 190F. Cut and sprinkle powdered sugar over top of your pan de muerto if you like.

Enjoy the soft sweet taste and send love to your favorite people who have passed. ❤️

Chef Maitri Carmichael brings a creative and peaceful energy to every plate. She grew up in Toronto with a British Grandma and an Italian Nonna who showed their love through food, then she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years, spending her free time at community farms and zen kitchens. Originally a scientist and biotech entrepreneur, she graduated from the Vegan Chef School in London (2021) and the Raw Food Culinary Academy in Vancouver (2023), and is now settled in Hawaii.

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