glazed panettone with almonds and pearl sugar

I’m not sure when it started, but sometime after my husband and I were married, my mother came for Christmas and brought us a panettone for breakfast. Ever since then, this rich, sweet Italian bread has been a part of our Christmas breakfast (along with bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon). Last year, I decided to try making my own. And now it’s that time of year again!

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Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto loaf closeup

The first days of November mark Mexico’s Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), a lively and rich tradition in which departed loved ones are honored and the cycle of life is celebrated.

Although I have never had the opportunity to visit Mexico during this festive time, I wanted to try my hand at making Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead), which is traditionally sculpted in a representation of bones. I adapted this one from a recipe in Diana Kennedy’s My Mexican Kitchen: Techniques and Ingredients, as posted on Epicurious. My changes reflect what I discovered worked best for me in making the recipe twice.

The bread is sweet and eggy, similar in texture to a yeasted coffee cake. This one has no anise seed, although other recipes I have seen include it. I didn’t use orange blossom water, only orange zest, and the result was a subtly citrus-scented loaf. [Read more...]