Dia de los Muertos is a traditional Latin American holiday where family members honor the souls of their departed loved ones. One of the oldest celebrations began in Mexico during the pre-Columbian era commencing on October 31st and ending on November 2nd. Latina.com was invited to attend a special Dia de los Muertos celebration at Nestle Headquarters in Los Angeles, CA recently to learn about the traditions, food, and meaning behind the holiday that today has been embraced by countries all over the world including the United States.
If you noticed people with their faces painted like skeletons during Halloween, La Calavera Catrina - an icon of Mexico’s “Day of the Dead” celebration - inspired them. Both skeletons and flowers are symbolic to the tradition and are featured in decorations, masks, and even food.
During our time at Nestle, we learned how to create two necessary elements needed for even the most basic celebration. DIY pro Kathy Cano-Murillo of CraftyChica.com taught us how to make photo frames, which will feature photos of our dearly departed loved ones on an altar. To make your own at home, follow her easy-to-follow tutorial via this link.
After wrapping up our glittery projects, we moved into their test kitchen where we made this delicious sweet bread called, Pan de los Muertos. The recipe was so easy to make that you’ll want to make it more than once a year. The best part about making the loaf is that you don’t even need a mixer! See the easy recipe below:
- 1/2 packet (3.5 g) active-dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (100-110 ̊ F)
- 1/4 cup NESTLÉ LA LECHERA Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with 2 teaspoons water
- 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
Stir yeast and warm water in a large glass bowl; allow to rest 10 minutes. Heat La Lechera and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Add anise seeds, salt and La Lechera mixture to yeast mixture and stir to combine.
Add eggs and 1 cup flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Continue adding remaining flour, cup by cup, stirring well until dough comes together. Knead dough gently for about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticky. Place in large greased bowl. Cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Punch dough down. Cut 3 small (about 1 tablespoonful) balls from loaf. Roll out 2 dough balls to form the “bones”. Shape the larger dough into a round loaf. Gently press the bones on top of the loaf crossing each other to make an “X”. Roll the remaining small dough ball to form the “skull”. Put skull in middle of the “X” and gently press down. Place loaf on the prepared baking sheet and allow to rise in warm place for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush top of loaf with egg wash.
Bake for 20 minutes; remove loaf from oven and brush again with egg wash and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Return to oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Serve warm or cool completely. Best eaten the same day prepared.
(Makes 1 loaf, 10 servings)
- Preparation Time: 15 minutes
- Standing Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes