Magazine article Sunset

A Spirited Loaf

Magazine article Sunset

A Spirited Loaf

Article excerpt

The gates between the dead and the living swing open in Mexico from October 31 through November 2. And the merrymaking of Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is noteworthy for its blend of whimsy and the macabre.

Paths of marigold petals lead to home altars. Cemeteries glow with candles. Skeletons are irreverently replicated in dangling sculptures and costumed characters; skulls are made of sugar. And special foods mark this occasion, particularly the lightly spiced, mildly sweet pan de muertos (bread of the dead). Each region treats the loaf differently. Some loaves are formed into fanciful likenesses of the deceased; others are crossed with leavened "bones." In Oaxaca, sesame seed coats a round loaf that's studded with a tiny sugar or plastic skull or a brightly painted bread-dough face. (For more on the Oaxaca festivities, see page 78.)

This sweet bread does very well at breakfast or for dessert.

1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup warm (110(deg)) water; let stand about 5 minutes.

2. Heat milk and butter to 110. Add milk mixture, sugar, and salt to softened yeast.

3. Lightly beat eggs to blend. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the eggs into a small bowl, cover, and chill. Add remaining eggs and vanilla to yeast mixture; stir to blend. Add 2 1/4 cups flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon; stir to moisten, then beat with a mixer on high speed until dough is stretchy, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in 1 cup flour to moisten. …

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