A spirited loaf

Mexico's party for the dead includes this memorable bread

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Bread of the Dead

The gates between the dead and the living swing open in Mexico from October 31 through November 2. And the merrymaking of Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is noteworthy for its blend of whimsy and the macabre.

Paths of marigold petals lead to home altars. Cemeteries glow with candles. Skeletons are irreverently replicated in dangling sculptures and costumed characters; skulls are made of sugar. And special foods mark this occasion, particularly the lightly spiced, mildly sweet pan de muertos (bread of the dead). Each region treats the loaf differently. Some loaves are formed into fanciful likenesses of the deceased; others are crossed with leavened "bones." In Oaxaca, sesame seed coats a round loaf that's studded with a tiny sugar or plastic skull or a brightly painted bread-dough face.

This sweet bread does very well at breakfast or for dessert.

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