It is a sweetened soft bread shaped like a bun, often decorated with bone-shaped phalange pieces.
Pan de muerto is eaten on Día de Muertos, at the gravesite or alternatively, at a tribute called an ofrenda. In some regions, it is eaten for months before the official celebration.
As part of the celebration, loved ones eat pan de muerto as well as the relative’s favourite foods. The bones are represented in a circle to portray the circle of life.
The bread is topped with sugar and it can be found in Mexican grocery stores/bakeries in the U.S and other countries.
Original Pan de Muerto Recipe
The classic recipe for pan de muerto is a simple sweet bread recipe, often with the addition of anise seeds, and other times flavored with orange flower water or orange zest (other variations are made depending on the region or the baker). The one baking the bread will usually wear decorated wristbands, a tradition which was originally practiced to protect from burns on the stove or oven.
Bread of the dead usually has skulls or crossbones engraved on it. It is believed the spirits do not eat, but absorb its essence, along with water at their ofrenda, after their long journey back to Earth.
NOTE: To make 6 breads (servings) double all the ingredients.