Let’s talk about Day of the Dead food!
You’ve probably already heard about Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos.
But, what is it really?
What Is Dia de los Muertos?
Dia de los Muertos is not the same as Halloween and it is not the same as Cinco de Mayo. Also, it is not meant to be scary. Instead, Day of the Dead is about honoring loved ones who have passed with celebrations. Day of the Dead dates are: October 31 through November 2. The celebrations include painted faces, dances, parades, gatherings, and special Day of the Dead Food like Pan de Muerto, or Day of the Dead Bread.
Day of the Dead is a really fun topic to add to your Fall activities or diversity studies.
We really had a fun time learning more about this holiday during our lessons and activities.
It was interesting to learn about a different culture and how they use the time in October to honor the loved ones who have passed.
(By the way, Day of the Dead is not just Mexican Halloween.)
Traditional Day of the Dead Food
Just like any celebration in any culture, food is a major part of it.
Day of the Dead food is no different.
Traditional Day of the Dead food includes:
- Agua de jamaica (hibiscus flower water)
- Agua de tamarindo (tamarind water)
- Calavera (Sugar skulls)
- Horchata, or orxata (a drink with rice, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon)
- Caramel flan
- Calabaza en tacha (candied pumpkin)
- Blue corn enchiladas
- Pan du Muerto, or Day of the Dead bread (What we decided to make!)
One of the things that we used to do all the time (that I want to get back to doing) is to pair up our learning or theme lesson with a fun cooking project.
So, we wanted to cook again for this holiday!
READ THIS NEXT:
For our Dia De Los Muertos learning, we decided to make Pan de Muerto, or traditional Day of the Dead Bread, for our Day of the Dead food.
This is probably the Day of the Dead food that is most closely associated with this holiday!
Be aware: This bread is a dense, plain-ish bread that the kids (and you) may find boring if you like a sweeter bread.
(But, we spruced it up in the recipe below, so don’t miss it!)
Since the recipe has some orange zest in it, we thought it would be yummy with an addition of chopped fresh cranberries (and give it a little extra fall/holiday-ish kick).
And, it did not disappoint!
Just be aware that traditional Day of the Dead bread does not contain cranberries.
So, if you’re trying to stay true to the Mexican recipe, don’t add cranberries.
But, we really, really loved it with cranberries.
We even tested it out by taking some of it to my kid’s Spanish teacher (who is from Mexico) and she loved it! She said that she’s going to start adding cranberries to her Day of the Dead bread now!
NOTE: This is a time consuming recipe (as is any time that you make bread from scratch) because you have to allow time for it to rest/rise. We used the time while the bread was rising to learn more about Day of the Dead and read some Day of the Dead books [below].
Be sure to gather up all your study and book items and get them ready before you start making the recipe.
That way during recipe down time (rise/rest time) you can just move back and forth between studying about the day and continuing the recipe process.
NEED DAY OF THE DEAD IDEAS?
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Day of the Dead Books for Kids
Also try these children’s books for your studies:
DAY OF THE DEAD FOOD
How to Make Day of the Dead Bread
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Pan de Muerto (Day of the Dead Bread)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons anise seeds (We used poppy seeds and it was yummy!)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh (uncooked) cranberries (optional)
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons white sugar (for glaze)
- In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and the butter until the butter melts completely. Remove from heat and add warm water.
- In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, yeast, salt, anise (or poppy) seeds, and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat in the warm milk mixture. Add eggs and orange zest and beat until well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and continue adding more flour until the dough is soft. Add cranberries and stir completely.
- Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and stretchy when pulled.
- Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size (about 1 to 2 hours).
- Punch the dough down and pinch off a small portion. Shape the remaining dough into a large round loaf. With the dough you pinched off, make a round knob and place it on top of the loaf. Place dough onto a baking sheet, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until it has almost doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake bread for 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven let cool slightly.
- FOR GLAZE: In a small saucepan combine 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice, and orange zest. Over medium heat, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Brush over top of bread while still warm. Sprinkle glazed bread with white sugar.