Pan de Muerto
Golden Crown Panadería
By Emily Nagatomo
The warm smell of orange zest wafts through the air of Golden Crown Panadería, an old-fashioned neighborhood bakery located in Albuquerque, New Mexico famous for its traditional New Mexican-style breads and pastries. In honor of Día de los Muertos, Golden Crown Panadería begins the process of baking and preparing the traditional staple of pan de muerto for ofrendas across the Albuquerque area. Though depictions of the imagery of pan de muerto vary regionally, the most common depiction is a rounded loaf with a knot at the center with lines emerging from the center. The imagery represents a skull and bones, though depending on the locale, some believe the lines to represent the tears shed for the departed.
Golden Crown Panadería, head baker Chris Morales creates the traditional, rounded bread with a knob in the middle and lines emerging from the center. The knob represents the skulls of those departed with the lines extending outward to represent the bones, though this symbolism differs regionally with some areas believing them to represent the tears shed for the departed. Morales spends weeks ahead in preparation gathering supplies and fulfilling orders. Golden Crown Panadería is also known for its special twists on orders, including those of the beloved pan de muerto. Typically beginning in October, Morales offers three different sizes of pan de muerto. The first is a typical loaf that is very traditional across Northern Mexico and is rounded with the crossed bones and the knob topped with sugar. Beyond this offering, Morales gets more creative. The medium styles depict entire skeletons and animals dancing, singing, and celebrating to brighten up any ofrenda. The last is an entire ofrenda itself elaborately decorated with cempacuchiles, photographs, candles, tables, personal belongings, sugar skulls, and drinks all handcrafted out of dough and lots of creativity. The ofrenda masterpiece has been used as schools as a central learning piece for students in the Albuquerque area to learn and celebrate el Día de los Muertos.
Across New Mexico, Día de los Muertos is celebrated among families and communities including events like festivals and parades as well as more traditional approaches such as decorating ofrendas and celebrating the deceased at grave sites.
Original owner Pratt Morales started the tradition of including pan de muerto back when the bakery first opened up in 1972. As a father-son bakery, Chris continues his father’s legacy by continuing crafting the masterpieces each year. Golden Crown’s popularity extends beyond the reaches of Albuquerque as they were visited by Guy Fieri in his hi show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”. Fieri sampled the ever popular turkey shaped loaf that has also become a favorite at Thanksgiving for many New Mexican families. Golden Crown’s pivotal role as the neighborhood bakery has provided many people with a sense of community as they celebrate family traditions from Thanksgiving to Día de los Muertos.
This year, however, with COVID-19’s toll on the bakery, there will be very limited offerings with such few in-house bakers. Despite over a year surrounded by death and uncertainty, the Moraleses hope to continue baking their beloved pan de muerto in years to come so that the New Mexican community can continue to celebrate their loved ones during such a difficult time.
Golden Crown Panadería By Emily Nagatomo The warm smell of orange zest wafts through the air of Golden Crown Panadería, an old-fashioned neighborhood bakery located in Albuquerque, New Mexico famous for its traditional New Mexican-style breads and pastries. In honor of Día de los Muertos, Golden Crown Panadería begins the process of baking and preparing…