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Pan de Yema

Pan de yema, a rich, sugar-coated egg bread, is delicious enough pull apart and eat like pastry. This sweet bread, pan de yema, is traditionally prepared for Day of the Dead celebrations.

Preparation time: 1/2 hour, plus 2 1/2 hours for rising

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2 loaves

1 1/2 tablespoons aniseed

1/4 cup water

2 packages dry yeast (2 tablespoons)

1/2 cup warm water

2/3 cup sugar

7 eggs

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 stick butter

4 1/2 cups flour, plus flour for dusting work surface

Vegetable oil for coating bowl

1/3 cup sugar for sprinkling

  1. Steep the aniseed in 1/4 cup water for 10 minutes.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, warm water, and 1 tablespoon of the 2/3 cup sugar.

  3. Let sit until foamy, 10 minutes.

  4. Separate 3 eggs.

  5. Add 3 whole eggs to the separated yolks and beat.

  6. Melt the stick of butter.

    You can melt it in a small bowl in the microwave or a small saucepan on the stove.

  7. Add the beaten eggs and yolks, salt, the remaining sugar, aniseed with water, nutmeg, and melted butter.

  8. Stir well until evenly combined.

  9. By hand or with the beater of an electric mixer, mix in flour.

  10. Transfer to a lightly floured board or counter.

  11. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky.

  12. Place the dough in a large oil-coated bowl.

  13. Cover with a lightly moistened tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

  14. Punch the dough down and turn out onto a floured counter.

  15. Pinch off about 2 cups of dough and set aside for decoration.

  16. Divide the remaining dough into 2 pieces.

  17. Shape each into a round loaf, about 1-inch thick.

  18. Place both loaves on a greased baking sheet.

  19. Divide the reserved dough into 8 pieces.

  20. Knead each piece into a ball, reserving 2 for center “skulls.”

  21. Pull and shape the other 6 pieces into long “bones,” the diameter of the loaves, with knobs on either end.

  22. With your fist, make a deep indentation in the center of each loaf.

  23. Crisscross three bones over each loaf like the spokes of a wheel.

  24. Poke 2 eyes in each remaining dough ball with your fingers.

  25. Place a “skull” in the center of each loaf.

  26. Cover the assembled dough with a damp towel and set aside to rise until the loaves hold a fingerprint when pressed, about 50 minutes.

  27. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  28. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon water.

  29. Brush the risen loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup sugar.

  30. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

  31. Cool on a rack.

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