El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated today, November 1st in Mexico. I'm no expert but it sounds like today they celebrate kids and then tomorrow they celebrate those that have passed. Thanks Wikipedia.
I've been meaning to try this recipe for over a year. We had a rainy weekend and the timing was perfect to get this done in time for Halloween and Day of the Dead (no relation). My major tip for this is to make sure you put the "skull" really close to the crossbones because as the whole thing rises the "skull" will move. So mine sort of looks like a blob and an X. Eh. I love this bread toasted. It is slightly sweet...sort of like a porteguese bread. I brought one loaf into work and it was a hit. Slightly over shadowed by the homemade Oreos but I think it held its own.
Pan de los Muertos
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon anise seed
1/2 ounce (2 packets) active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water
Combine sugar, salt, anise seed, and yeast in a small mixing bowl. Heat milk, water, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is just melted; do not allow it to boil. Add milk mixture to dry mixture and beat well with a wire whisk.
Stir in eggs and 1 1/2 cups of the flour and beat well. Add remaining flour, little by little, stirring well with a wooden spoon until dough comes together.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured wooden board and knead until it is smooth and elastic, and no longer sticky, about 9 to 10 minute . Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow it to rise in a warm area until it has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Punch down dough and divide into 2 pieces. Cut 3 small (about 1-ounce) balls from each half and mold them into skull-and-bones shapes. Shape large balls of dough into round loaf shapes, and place skull-and-bones on top. Place breads on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let rise another hour.
Brush loaves with egg yolk mixture and bake. Halfway through baking, about 20 minutes, remove loaves from oven and brush again with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Return to oven and bake until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, about another 20 minutes.