Baked for both the dead and the living, pan de muerto is a traditional Mexican sweet bread made in the weeks leading up to Día de los Muertos and on the day itself. Throughout Mexico and other Latin American countries celebrating the holiday, the skeletal form of pan de muerto can be found on ofrendas, altars erected to pay respects to the deceased, as an offering to these returning souls. While pan de muerto means “bread of the dead,” it’s mostly a tasty conduit to celebrate life. So whether you’re making an ofrenda or a meal, here’s a list of panaderias and pop-ups where you can get your hands on this seasonal treat.
A lot of panaderias are turning out wonderfully fluffy mini pan de muerto, often flavored with the traditional orange water and anise seeds. That includes Mendoza’s Mexican Mercado in Green Lake, Pasteleria Y Panaderia La Ideal in South Park, and Salvadorean Bakery in White Center.
For the full treat it’s worth taking the light rail all the way south to SeaTac’s Pasteleria Y Panaderia Las Delicias for a dinner plate–sized delight topped with sugar.
In Seattle proper, Central District’s Golden Wheat Bakery sells seasonal pan de muerto and candied skulls, alongside tamales, and other stellar baked goods.
Pop-ups and farmers markets
This year, Frelard Tamales is teaming up with Karen Sandoval’s Seattle area pop-up Bakescapade and other local small businesses to create a Día de los Muertos gift basket including flowers, soaps, candles, a dozen tamales and a pair of pan de muertos. Flavors include a classic orange/anise flavoring and a purple chai with purple sweet potato and chai spice. The cost of the entire gift basket is $200 and it can be ordered here.
Sandoval’s creative pan de muerto can also be found at Locust Cider in Gig Harbor on Friday, October 27, from 6 to 10 p.m. and at the Milpa Masa tortilla bakery in West Seattle on Sunday, October 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pre-orders are strongly encouraged, but there will be some treats available for walk-up. She’ll also be at the Cumbria de Muertos dance party at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard on Halloween from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Mayra Sibrian of La Selva Central Goods will be making pan de muerto throughout October at the weekly West Seattle Farmers Market on Sundays. You can also find her goodies at gift shop/bookstore/community center La Paloma in Tacoma.
Make your own
Finally, if you’ve got the time and the orange blossom water (stop by Shoreline’s La Plaza Latina or Mendoza’s in Green Lake), making it at home can be a rewarding option for home bakers. Check out Pati Jinich’s recipe to get started.