This Day of the Dead bread ((Pan de los Muertos) is lightly sweetened and traditionally flavored with anise seed and orange zest. After it's baked it's brushed with a sweet orange glaze or sprinkled with sugar.
½teaspoonkosher saltif using table salt use just ¼ teaspoon
Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and the yeast to the 110F water. Stir and set aside.
Heat the milk until it simmers then remove from the heat and add the butter. Set aside to cool to 110F.
Combine one cup of the flour, wheat gluten (if using), orange zest, anise seed, and salt in the bowl of your mixer and blend.
Add the eggs to the 110F milk mixture, beating with a fork until blended.
Pour the yeast and the milk mixture into the flour mixture.
With the paddle attachment of your mixer blend on low.
Add the remaining flour a little at a time until the dough is soft but not overly sticky. You may not need all the flour or you may need a little more.
Use the dough hook on the mixer and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and stretchy. It will feel a bit like your earlobe when you press it between two fingers.
Place in a bowl that has been buttered and brush butter over the top. Cover and let rise until double - about 1 hour.
Punch down and pull off about ⅓ of the dough. Set it aside.
Shape the remaining dough into a round. Now take a walnut sized ball of the dough you set aside and make a knob on top of the round. Roll the remaining dough into 4 to 8 roped shaped like bones. Place vertically around the round loaf, from the knob on top to the bottom.
Place on a silpat or parchment covered baking sheet. Let the loaf rise for about 1 hour.
While the bread is rising make the glaze by boiling the sugar and orange juice together for about 3 minutes. Set it aside.
Bake at 350F for 30 to 45 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Remove the loaf from the oven and brush with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar.
Expert Tip: If you'd like to omit the orange glaze you can brush the bread before baking with an egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon of water. It gives the crust a nice glossy look.
You can make the dough for Day of the Dead bread the day before and refrigerate overnight
If you want a soft crust cover the bread with a clean towel and let it cool.
The glaze and sugar will go on better if you brush ¼ of the hot bread with glaze, sprinkle with sugar, and then move on to the next ¼.
You can melt orange marmalade and brush it over the finished bread for the glaze if you prefer not to make the syrup.
Pan dulce breads are best the day they are made but they freeze well. Let cool completely, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, cover with aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months.
If the bread gets a little stale slice it and make French toast with it. Delish!