(Pan de Muerto de Trigo Integral Vegano)
Translation: Do you speak Spanish?
I do. I’ve been learning Spanish since I was in the 7th grade.
If you want to get technical, I’ve been learning Spanish since 2nd grade. But I don’t count that. I attended one meeting of Spanish club when I was in the 2nd grade. I became frustrated when they expected me to know the bones of the body in Spanish within one lesson.
I say 7th grade.
I love the Spanish language and the cultures that surround it. In middle school and high school I learned much about Latin American culture. In high school and college, I studied Spanish culture.
And yes, they are two different cultures.
One way of learning about a culture is through food. Being an obese child, I loved to eat and try different foods.
My first real Latin American recipe that I made was Pan de Muerto. Translation: Dead Bread.
Día de los Muertos and Pan de Muerto
You may be wondering why it’s called dead bread. And why anybody would want to eat it.
Pan de Muerto is a traditional sweet bread made in Mexico. It’s eaten during a holiday coming up on November 1-2, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). During this celebration, Mexicans celebrate and remember the lives of their dead relatives.
You may think this is depressing holiday. However, it’s actually quite festive and fun. Instead of mourning their dead like we do in the US, they celebrate their lives. They hold parades, gatherings and come together as a family to remember their loved ones who are gone.
It’s interesting that Día de los Muertos and Halloween fall so close to one another. Many people assume that they’re similar. Especially since skeletons and other ghoulish creatures are popular in both holidays.
If you look closer, you’ll see they’re two entirely different holidays.
You may think it odd, but I’d rather celebrate Día de los Muertos than Halloween. Obviously I loved getting candy as an obese child. But I didn’t like dressing up. I never liked the way I looked, even on Halloween. And of course, all that candy didn’t help my weight problems…
Now I prefer Día de los Muertos because it’s more cultural and heathy than Halloween. Día de los Muertos has a reason for the festivities. Halloween? Not so much. It’s another American holiday that celebrates nothing. At one time it had meaning, but it no longer does. Now it’s just another excuse to have party and overindulge in unhealthy food.
The original Pan de Muerto isn’t much better than candy, though. It’s usually made with refined white flour, sugar, milk and eggs.
I didn’t care. This year I was determined to celebrate Día de los Muertos one way or another. I was determined to make a healthy, whole wheat sourdough version of Pan de Muerto.
So that’s exactly what I did.
My healthy Pan de Muerto
I was tackling two challenges: sourdough Pan de Muerto and vegan Pan de Muerto. I decided to work on veganizing it first.
Rob and I had a few packets of yeast left from our time traveling in Australia. I planned on using that to make the dough rise. I based the vegan recipe off of Stephanie’s Pan de Muerto. It was a recipe similar to the one I remember using when I first made it back in 7th grade.
That plan didn’t work out. I killed the yeast with water that was too hot. The short version of the story is that it didn’t rise but it was tasty.
Since the taste was okay, I decided to jump into the next challenge: sourdough Pan de Muerto.
I thought sourdough was going to be more challenging. I haven’t had much success with fluffy bread in the past. I don’t have the desire to knead bread for long periods of time. I’m also too busy to time out my sourdough starter to have the proper rise. That’s why I rely on my Ultimate Sourdough Wheat Recipe.
But that is what my pan needed. A little TLC.
I looked online and was surprised to find a sourdough Pan de Muerto recipe. Unfortunately, it still used commercial yeast.
Fortunately I found another blog that helped me with my rising problem, Swiss Hills Ferments. I took their pre-ferment technique from their basic sourdough recipe.
I hacked together the pre-ferment technique, Stephanie’s and my vegan ingredients. They came together to form my first vegan whole wheat sourdough Pan de Muerto.
Why not dip your toe into another culture this October? Make this delicious sourdough Pan de Muerto recipe. It’s the perfect balance of sweetness and healthy sourdough goodness.
Vegan and free of added salt, sugar, oil, soy, nuts and seeds
Reasons to love this recipe: cultural, sweet, sourdough, seasonal
Yields 1 medium loaf
- 21 g (1 tablespoon) active sourdough starter
- 85 g flour
- 85 g water
- Heaping 1/4 c cooked chickpeas
- 7 dates (I used deglet noor)
- 3/4 c water, divided
- 1 tbsp flax
- 260 g (2 c) whole wheat flour
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 packet Splenda
- Citrus zest (optional)
Mix preferment 8-12 hours before starting dough. Cover and ferment for 8-12 hours. Doing this overnight works best.
Soak dates in 1/4 c of water overnight.
After 8-12 hours, blend the chickpeas and dates in a food processor. Process until smooth—you don’t want any small bits of chickpeas. Add the water and flax to the mixture. Blend again.
Combine the chickpea mixture with the pre-ferment and flour in a bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add flour by the tablespoon until you can handle it. If it’s not smooth, add water by the tablespoon until it’s soft and pliable.
Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. You want a soft, stretchy dough. Add small amounts of flour if needed.
Allow the dough to rise in a large covered bowl for 2 to 3 hours. A warm place works best. It should around double in size.
Now is the time to be gentle. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Roll each portion into a rope 12 inches long. Braid the ropes and press the two ends of the braid together to form a circle. Set the dough on a piece of aluminum foil, cover again and allow the bread to rise for another 1-2 hours. Again, a warm place works best. The bread should look puffy.
Heat oven and baking pan to 350 F.
Combine the cinnamon and Splenda in a small bowl. Dampen the top of the loaf with a small amount of water or aquafaba. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over the loaf. If you have citrus zest, top the bread with that, too.
Transfer the loaf to the hot baking pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until fully baked and slightly brown.
Allow bread to cool for at least 5 minutes before enjoying.