Monday, November 2, 2009
Pan de Muerto
Friday night I was told we needed to make Pan de Muerto for DS's school for a Monday party. Fair enough - I actually got more than one day's notice on that one. Never mind that Saturday was Halloween, and yesterday All Saints Day at church. We started mid-afternoon yesterday.
What we had to go by was a few pages in graphic novel format, with the characters in each frame telling us how to make it. For example, "We don't have much to work with, but we can still prepare some kind of ofrenda. Get me 1/2 cup of butter, 2 pkgs of dry yeast, 1 tablespoon of whole anise seed. . ." Meanwhile, all sorts of ghoulish things are creeping into the room. The baker appears to be a zombie of sorts. But they all seem to know what they're doing.
So, at 4:30 pm DS and I began to make our bread. Here is a little excerpt from the recipe we used:
". . . heat milk, butter, and water until warm but not boiling.
Uh. Measure out a cup and a half of the flour, saving the rest for later. Mix that cup and a half with the saly, yeast, anise seed and sugar.
Take your warm liquid and beat it well into your solids mixture until they're all combined. Add all your eggs and beat in another cup of flour. Keep adding flour until you have a dough that's soft without being sticky. Knead until smooth (about 10 minutes should do.)"
All was going well, and we got a nice dough going - easy to knead, and smooth. The scent was nice, too, with all those anise seeds and the sugar. We formed our dough into the usual ball, and set it into our "rising bowl."
An hour and a half later, it really hadn't risen. I tried an old trick of kneading more yeast into it, but to no avail. At 7:30 it became apparent I needed to start a new dough. I'm wondering if adding the warm liquids to the yeast killed it the first time around? Not sure. This is not normally how I make bread. Though, I was willing to give it a try.
Recipe #2: What I used, loosely:
Pan de Muerto: Bread of the Dead
This time, I sprinkled the yeast over the warm water, and separately softened the butter in the milk in a pan - but only just, because I didn't want that liquid to be so warm it might kill the activated yeast. I then added a half cup of flour to the yeast and water mixture, then added the milk/butter mixture. To this I added the anise seeds, sugar, salt, and added more flour until I had a decent dough. Not too stiff, but not glued to the sides of the mixing bowl.
It worked. My dough was rising nicely.
So what did we do with the first dough? Used it. I cut it into four pieces, shaped two larger ones into skull shapes (wish I'd taken a photo!), and two smaller pieces I shaped into bones, complete with knobbly ends. The first skull rose a bit, the second skull and two bones didn't rise as much. I think the reason for that was I had rolled the first bit of dough in my usual way: punch it down, and fold the edges into the center like a flower. Turn the dough over, and continued to coax the dough inward until the ball is nice and tight. Then I poked two eye holes with my fingers, a nose cavity, and four fingers for the teeth. Like I said, it didn't stay that way; most of the face filled in.
I put those in the oven after letting them rise another hour.
The second dough responded beautifully. After punching it down, I cut off portion of it (about 1/3) and set it aside. The larger portion I formed into a ball. Now for the bone decorations. I divided the smaller portion into about eight pieces, formed one into a ball for the center, and make bones out of the other seven pieces, radiating them out from the center ball, or tear. Let that rise an hour.
This I baked for about 45 minutes. Near the time it was ready to come out of the oven, I made the glaze: 1/2 C. sugar and 2 Tb. grated orange rind mixed with 1/3 C. squeezed orange juice. (I basically grated one orange for the zest, then squeezed the orange and used most of the juice I got from it.) Boil two minutes.
When the bread came out, I coated it with the glaze.
At 11:20, I was done, and headed to bed, the smell of anise in the air, and sweet taste and scent of orange on my fingers.
This is a photo of one of the first (skull) loaves:
The main bread, second dough, photographed this morning.
By the way, why is the top knob off center? It rose so well in the oven, the top element was in the way, and "rearranged" it.