Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead)

A super-yummy sweet bread that's easy and makes a great way to celebrate All Souls Day

1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. butter cut into small pieces
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 pkg yeast
1/4 c warm water
2 eggs (reserve one egg white)
3 c unsifted flour (amount will vary)
1/4 t. cinnamon & 2 tsp. sugar; mixed together

Bring milk to scalding (just before it boils), remove from heat, add butter, 1/4 c. sugar and salt.  Cool.  In a bowl, mix yeast and warm water.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Add milk mixture.  Add eggs, reserving 1 egg white, and 2 1/3 c. flour to the mixture.  Blend well.  Knead on floured surface till smooth and velvety; about 5 minutes.

Let rise til double in size in a warm place (ie a slightly warmed oven, about 1.5 hours).  Cut off 1/3 cup size piece of dough and set aside.  Divide rest of dough into 3rds.  Shape each piece into 12" long rope, and braid the ropes together, pinching the ends.  Place on greased baking sheet.  Join ends of rope to form wreath.  Divide reserved dough in two.  Roll out to form 2" 'bones'.  Cross bones and place over entire wreath.  Let rise till double - about 45 minutes.  Brush gently with beaten egg white.  Sprinkle wreath with cinnamon/sugar, avoiding the 'bones'.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25-40 minutes (the time will vary from oven to oven, but the bread is finished when the center is cooked).

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