Monday, November 2, 2009

Day of the Dead

For some time now my daughter Kali has encouraged us to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos, Day of the Dead. Being a multi-cultural family who heartedly embraces other beliefs & customs, we figured, why not? With such a devastating loss this year, it seemed the perfect time to do so.

We always make an altar for Samhain honoring those who have moved on....

This afternoon each of us will visit Mom's grave, decorating it with flowers and pumpkins, lighting a candle and visiting with her.

Then tonight we will set an extra place at the table, inviting the spirits to join us in a feast. I'll be making Pan de Muerto alongside Mom's Vegetable-Beef Stew, not really a recipe per se but if anyone wants it I'll be happy to share.

Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead)

• 1/4 cup milk
• 1/4 cup (half a stick) margarine or butter, cut into 8 pieces
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 package active dry yeast
• 1/4 cup very warm water
• 2 eggs
• 3 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
• 1/2 teaspoon anise seed
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons sugar

Instructions: Bring milk to boil and remove from heat. Stir in margarine or butter, 1/4 cup sugar and salt.

In large bowl, mix yeast with warm water until dissolved and let stand 5 minutes. Add the milk mixture.

Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Add the yolk to the yeast mixture, but save the white for later. Now add flour to the yeast and egg. Blend well until dough ball is formed.

Flour a pastry board or work surface very well and place the dough in center. Knead until smooth. Return to large bowl and cover with dish towel. Let rise in warm place for 90 minutes. Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Knead dough again on floured surface. Now divide the dough into fourths and set one fourth aside. Roll the remaining 3 pieces into "ropes."

On greased baking sheet, pinch 3 rope ends together and braid. Finish by pinching ends together on opposite side. Divide the remaining dough in half and form 2 "bones." Cross and lay them atop braided loaf.

Cover bread with dish towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix anise seed, cinnamon and 2 teaspoons sugar together. In another bowl, beat egg white lightly.

When 30 minutes are up, brush top of bread with egg white and sprinkle with sugar mixture, except on cross bones. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.


Apron Thrift Girl said...

When I read your description on the side bar, I had to laugh because I could have written such similar words. Well not so eloquently. Your blog is very beautiful and written with such heart.

Rapunzel said...

Aw, thank you so much, Apron Thrift Girl! I adore your blog as well! xoxox

Annie said...

Great tradition. :-)

antgirl said...

sounds wonderful.

Jen said...

I hope you and yours had a nice Halloween!

Aisling said...

I love these traditions... The cultural traditions are fascinating, but a unique family take on a tradition is even more special in some way. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Rapunzel said...

Annie, it went really well, will definitely do it again next year!

Rapunzel said...

Antgirl, the dinner turned out great, if I do say so myself! And the bread...mmmm...I couldn't resist! ;)

Rapunzel said...

Thanks, Jen; it was not our best Halloween ever but I trust next year will be better.

Rapunzel said...

Aisling, you and I share the love of culture and traditions, I knew you'd enjoy reading about this one! :)