Recipes for this bread vary tremendously depending on the financial
situation of the family or the predicaments of the bakers. I have
found no better than this one, given to me when I was apprenticed
- rather informally - to one of the leading bakeries in Mexico City
some years ago. The quantity will make one large one - about 11 inches
in diameter, which is impressive - and about three small ones, which
are always good as little presents or for hungry Halloweeners.
The oven temperature is given for a large bread, it should be increased
to just about 400°F for the smaller ones.
The starter can be made ahead or the day before. (Any leftover can
be frozen but is best used right away.) In fact, the final mixture
can be kneaded and then left overnight in the refrigerator - which
I do to help it develop a better flavor - and brought up to room temperature
before forming an the final rising.
I am giving an exact translation from the metric weight, knowing that
with bread dough a little variation here and there does not change
the end product significantly.
All Saints and All Souls Day Bread
Recipe from The Art of Mexican Cooking (Bantam Books, 1989)
By Diana Kennedy
Yield: 1 large bread, about 11 inches in diameter, or three
the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a mixing bowl and gradually
beat in the water and eggs. (Mexican bakers do not bother to cream
the yeast, knowing that it is fresh - do it if you wish.) Continue
beating until the dough forms a cohesive mass around the dough
hook; it should be sticky, elastic and shiny - about 5 minutes.
Turn out onto a floured board and form into a round cushion shape.
Butter and flour a clean bowl. Place the dough in it and cover
with greased plastic wrap and a towel and set aside in a warm
place - ideally 70°F - until the dough doubles in volume, about
pound (4 scant cups) unbleached flour, plus extra for bowl
and working surface
ounce (1¼ teaspoons) sea salt
ounces (1/3 cup) sugar
1 ounce (3 scant Tablespoons) crumbled cake yeast or 1½ scant
cup plus 2 Tablespoons water
large eggs, lightly beaten
The Final Dough
Starter torn into small pieces
pound (1 cup) sugar
ounces (14 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra
for greasing baking sheets
pound unbleached flour, plus extra for board and bowl
egg yolks, lightly beaten with 2 Tablespoons water
cup water, approximately
teaspoon orange flower water and/or grated rind of 1 orange
grease 4 baking sheets (for both breads while proofing). Put the
starter, sugar and butter into a mixing bowl and mix well, gradually
beating in the flour and egg yolks alternately. Beat in the water
and flavoring - you should have a slightly sticky, smooth, shiny
dough that just holds its shape (since eggs, flours and climates
differ, you may need to reduce or increase the liquid). Turn the
dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a round
egg yolks, lightly beaten
cup melted unsalted butter, approximately
cup sugar, approximately
Wash out mixing bowl, butter and flour it, and replace the dough
in it. Cover with greased plastic wrap and a towel and set aside
in a warm place - ideally about 70°F - for about 1½ hours, until
it almost doubles in size, or set aside overnight in the bottom
of the refrigerator.
Bring the dough up to room temperature before attempting to work
with it. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and divide the
dough into two equal pieces. Set one aside for forming later.
Take three quarters of the dough and roll it into a smooth ball.
Press it out to a circle about 8 inches in diameter - it should
be about 1-inch thick. Press all around the edge to form a narrow
ridge - like the brim of a hat - and transfer to one of the greased
baking sheets. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and set
aside in a warm place (about 70°F) to rise about half its size
- about 1 hour. Taking the remaining one-quarter of the dough,
divide it into four equal parts. Roll one of the parts into a
smooth ball. Roll the other 3 strips about 8 inches long, forming
knobs as you go for the "bones." Transfer the four pieces to another
greased tray, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and set
aside to rise for about 1 hour.
Repeat these steps to form the second bread with the other piece
of dough that was set aside. Heat oven to 375°F.
At the end of the rising period, carefully place the strips of
dough forming the "bones" across the main part of the bread, place
the round ball in the middle to form the "skull," and press your
finger in hard to form the eye sockets. Brush the surface of the
dough well with the beaten yolks and bake at the top of the oven
until well browned and springy - about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn
off the oven, open the door, and let the bread sit there for about
5 minutes more. Remove from the oven, brush with melted butter,
and sprinkle well with sugar.