Food/ Food Crafting/ Holidays

Day of the Dead

Dia de los Muertos

“Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.” 
Mark Twain

Dia De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a traditional Mexican holiday, on which it is believed that the veil between the living and the dead is lifted, so they may share a day together.

Celebrations begin on November 1, Día de Muertos Chiquitos–The Day of the Little Dead, the day usually reserved to honor the souls of the little angelitos. The next day, the adults are remembered.  The celebrations continue on November 2, All Souls Day.

Day of the Dead is a joyous occasion when the memory of ancestors and the continuity of life is celebrated. This is not a time of mourning since “the path back to the living world must not be made slippery by tears.”

Altars to the dead are created, featuring pictures, favorite food and drink, incense, marigolds and candles.

Special treats are created as well, and here I offer my variation of Pan de Muertos – a special sweet yeast and egg bread.  Often the bread is decorated with the bones of the dead, and some is always placed on the altar as a gift to those who have passed.

Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead)

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Dessert, treat
By Tamara Berg Serves: 24
Prep Time: 3 hours Cooking Time: 20 minutes


  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1/4 C milk
  • 1/4 C warm water (110º)
  • 1-1/4 t. active dry yeast
  • 3C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 C white sugar
  • 2 t. orange zest
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Glaze:
  • 1/4 C white sugar
  • 1/4 C orange juice
  • 1 T orange zest
  • white sugar for sprinkling
  • Icing (optional):
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 1-2 t. orange juice



Heat the milk and butter together in medium saucepan until the butter melts.  Remove from heat and add warm water… test temperature.  Should be 110º.


In a large bowl combine 1 cup flour, yeast, salt, cinnamon and 1/4 c sugar.  Beat in the warm milk mixture and add eggs and orange zest.  Beat until combined.


Stir in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until combined.  Turn dough out onto floured board and knead until smooth.


Place dough into a lightly greased bowl and put in a warm place covered with plastic wrap until doubled (1 to 2 hours). 


Punch down the dough and shape into small rolls. Place rolls on lightly greased sheet, covered with plastic wrap, and leave to rest in warm place until doubled in size – about 1 hour.


Bake in preheated 350º oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until light golden brown.


To make glaze, combine 1/4 c sugar, 1/4 cup orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and boil 2 minutes. Brush over bread and sprinkle with sugar.


After bread has cooled, pipe icing onto each bread in skull and bones shapes.

It smells heavenly!

We celebrate at Hollywood Forever cemetery, where the largest Day of the Dead celebration in the U.S. is commemorating its 9th year.  Check our their site:

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