Friday, October 25, 2013

Pan de Muertos Through the Ages

Coming soon, ¿quien sabe?
See Any Port In a Storm, "Dockside Dining" for the joke behind this blog post.

I may write more later, but I have been very busy lately.

A continuacíon...

These, just into the oven, were made 3 years ago.I must remember to check to see if they are done.

Finished Pan de Muertos, brushed with melted butter or oil,
 sprinkled with sugar. Tastes good, looks nice but then soaks up moisture from the air and runs to ruin.
I tried again. I used a rice flour sprinkle instead of applying sugar. The rice flour is put on the egg washed loaves just before they go into the oven.

Reaching back in time, to Pan de Muertos in 2004.
The little esquéleto was made out of a clothes pin by a regular bakery customer of mine, in Mountain View, Arkansas. I still have two of his skeletons.

I mixed a second batch yesterday evening, using the same starter of flour, water and a little yeast, which then is allowed to prove for several hours. The new wrinkle was that at mixing time, that in lieu of sugar, I added a syrup I’d just made (barely cooled) of piloncillo and ground anise seed. 

I added some coarsely milled whole wheat flour and some regular whole wheat, the rest of the ingredients, including wheat flour, unsalted butter and manteca de cerdo. I have grown to appreciate the subdued, porcine scent of the manteca.

The results, if I may say so, were spectacular.

Pan de Muertos Integral, ajonjolí negro
To be continued...

Daily Update, October 28, 2013:
I started another batch of "white" PdM yesterday at 1:00 a.m. Various social engagements and eating events delayed the dividing and shaping of the dough until 24 hours had passed since the starter was made. It had been in the refrigerator since 10:00 a.m. Sunday and I took it out at 1:00 a.m. Monday. I shaped the dough and let it rest on the baker's bench, while I prepared the pans and turned to writing here.

Scaled, pre-formed balls of PdM dough
We'll see before long how this this performs.

After 30 minutes of rest time, the dough balls seem ready to form into "Muertitos". Hasta luego...

3:07 AM: An hour has passed. The loaves are formed and into their final rise.

Two panes on the greased baking sheet.
Placing "los huesitos"
Breads slowly rising under plastic bag
I have already made another starter, looking forward to the next batch of four breads.
Masa Madre (starter)
Yet more, later...

Self-updating slide show

October 31, 2013: Latest and, I think last update. This morning, I made four more panes de muerto. This time, although the masa madre was made as before with OPTIMA flour, for the dough I used Celestial flour. I had until now considered it a softer flour, lower in gluten, but I didn't really have any evidence for this theory. I also increased the sugar from 1/2 cup to 3/3 cup; mixed the dough a shorter time, and with greater hydration. It was mixed at 7:00 pm, Wednesday and refrigerated after 1 1/2 hours of rest at cool kitchen temperature. Then it was refrigerated until about 2:30 a.m.

The dough had risen well above the rim of the KA mixer bowl in which it had been retarded.

I took it out, punched it down an let it rest under cover for over an hour, then shaped the loaves.

To be continued.


Kim G said...

Did you make those? They look delicious.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we make our own pan de vivos.

DonCuevas said...

Certainly I made them. They are delicious.

I have started a new batch, but this one is sweetened with piloncillo and has some whole wheat flour in it.

This blog post started as a prop for a silly joke I made on Any Port In A Storm Forum.
I'll add the link to the post, not to the reply.


Andean said...

That was a very funny link. :D

Growing up, we always baked bread on that day in different shapes. And made a refresco called "colada morada". The bread was "exelente" and the drink I never really cared for, but many people love it.

DonCuevas said...

Andean, I had to look up "Colada Morada:", and I found this, on


Colada morada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Colada morada served with a guagua de pan

Colada morada (Spanish for dark purple strained) is a traditional Ecuadorian beverage prepared with black corn flour and fruits such as naranjilla, babaco, pineapple,blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries (which give it its color). The drink is sweetened with cane sugar, known as "panela", and prepared with spices such as cinnamon, allspice, cloves and herbs such as lemongrass and lemon verbena. It is traditionally consumed on November 2, Día de Difuntos, with a type of bread called guaguas de pan, which are bread figures shaped like babies and often decorated with colorful icing and filled with fruit jam (strawberry or guava).

In indigenous Andean communities, especially in rural areas like Tungurahua Province, it is consumed and offered in the cemetery next to the tomb of deceased relatives as part of the rite of reunion with ancestors."

Thanks for teaching me something new and iteresting.

Don Cuevas

DonCuevas said...

Here's a somewhat daunting recipe for Colada Morada:

Para 30 personas
1 libra de harina de maíz negro
20 naranjillas*
2 libras de mora
1/2 libra de mortiño
1 piña
1 babaco
1 libra de frutillas
3 ishpingo
6 pedazos de canela
15 bolitas de pimienta dulce
10 clavos de olor
1 atado de hierbas (hoja de naranja, hiebaluisa, arrayán).
Poner a hervir en 10 litros de agua todas las hierbas y los aliños durante 15 minutos. En esta misma olla cocinar las naranjillas, cuando estén suaves, retirarlas del fuego licuarlas, cernirlas y reservar su jugo.
En otro recipiente licuar el mortiño y la mora con un poco de agua, cernir y reservar.
En un tazón con dos litros de agua disolver la harina y cernir.
En una olla grande, cernir el agua en la que se cocino las hierbas y los aliños y poner a hervir la harina cernida, meciendo constantemente. Cuando esté en ebullición añadir el jugo de la naranjilla, después el jugo del mortiño y de la mora. Añadir azúcar al gusto (2 libras). Mientras esto continua hirviendo se pica la piña en cuadros pequeños y se le añade a la colada y igual procedimiento con el babaco.
Se deja hervir todo y se sigue meciendo por aproximadamente 30 minutos. Ya casi al retirarla del fuego colocar la frutilla picada.
Servir caliente y acompañar con las guaguas de pan."


(the site is loaded with pop-up windows and miscel. junk.) -DC

* I had to look up "naranjillas", and they are enticing looking fruits.

Andean said...

My mother made it every November. You would enjoy the taste I think, and there are simpler recipes. And you can improvise. It is kind of a think drink.

I will not be making it any time in my lifetime.

Andean said...

It is interesting and the tradition is a strong one. At least the cooking part of it.

Kim G said...

Yeah, I'm back, and in the context of the whole post, my question looks pretty silly. But for the record, I posted the comment when there was only the first picture of the yummy-looking Panes de Muertos, not any of the other pictures or text.

Alma Ibarrola de Rinasz said...

I want some of that Pan de Muertos, se ve delicioso Mike!