Sweet and citrusy, pan de muerto is a traditional Mexican bread made for Day of the Dead festivities. This recipe comes from Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte. Check out the Day of the Dead Party at Café el Presidente in New York City for a copy of the book.
Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, then remove from the heat and let cool. Set aside.
Put the flour into a large bowl and make a well. Sprinkle the sugar and yeast in it, then pour in the milk. Close the well by flicking flour over the milk and let it sit for 1 hour.
Add the eggs, sea salt, orange zest, orange blossom water, and cold butter, and shape into a ball. Transfer to a clean work surface and knead for 10 minutes. Return to the bowl and cover. Let rise for 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Grease 2 baking sheets with butter. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Take two of those pieces and roll them into tight balls, and then press them gently to flatten a bit. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
After 1 hour, take the remaining piece of dough and divide it into 10 little pieces. Roll 2 of these pieces into small balls and 8 of these pieces into long, thin logs.
Brush the loaves gently with the glaze. Take four of the logs and drape them in an “X” shape over one of the discs of dough. Repeat for the other disc of dough. Brush these with the glaze. Take a little ball of dough and place it on top of one disk of dough, where the “X” meets. Press down gently so it sticks. Repeat for the other little ball of dough.
Glaze the dough balls and bake in the oven until golden, 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. While they are still warm, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and mix well.