• In Mexican tradition, Bread of the dead (pan de muerto) is a sweet brioche used to decorate the graves of loved ones. (Chris Chen)Source: Chris Chen

In Mexico, this sweet brioche will often be used to decorate the graves of loved ones who have passed away.






Skill level

Average: 4.1 (9 votes)


  • 1 tbsp (2 x 7 g sachets) dried yeast
  • 125 ml (½ cup) warm water
  • 550 g (3⅔ cups) plain flour
  • 75 g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • pinch of salt
  • 125 ml (½ cup) warm milk
  • 2 tsp orange-blossom water
  • 1 tbsp anise extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 extra egg yolks
  • 125 g softened and chopped unsalted butter

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Proving time 1 hour and 10 minutes

Combine dried yeast, 50 g (⅓ cup) plain flour and 125 ml (½ cup) warm water in a bowl. Set aside in a warm place for 15 minutes or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, combine 500 g (3⅓ cups) plain flour, caster sugar, fennel seeds and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Slowly add 125 ml (½ cup) warm milk, orange-blossom water and anise extract. Add 3 eggs, plus 3 extra egg yolks, beating well after each addition. Add 125 g softened and chopped unsalted butter one cube at a time, beating after each addition. Add yeast mixture and beat until smooth. Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Punch down dough, pull off 2 x 6 cm balls and shape into 15 cm-long bone shapes. Shape remaining dough into a 20 cm round and top with bones. Rest for 10 minutes, then transfer to a lined tray and bake for 15 minutes.

Reduce heat to 160°C and bake for 40 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool slightly. Brush with melted butter and top with caster sugar.


Read more about how Marycarmen Aguilera marks Day of the Dead with a feast for family and friends here.



Photography Chris Chen. Styling Kirsten Jenkins. As seen in Feast magazine, November 2014, Issue 37.