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This sweet and tender semita bread is designed to be eaten with your morning café de olla or a cold glass of your favorite plant-milk. Piloncillo, raisins, cinnamon, orange zest, and anise are studded throughout the semita, making it an incredibly fragrant and delicious Mexican pan dulce.

Flour, water, yeast in a large stainless steel bowl

Origin of Semita Bread

In the 16th century, a group of Semitic Jews came to the new world, brought by Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueva to settle what is now the state of Nuevo Leon, escaping the Spanish Inquisition that was in full force at the time. This Jewish community colonized the states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, and parts of what is now Texas, and continued to practice their faith in secret. It is thought that this community ate bread during Passover very similar to what we consider semita bread now, with the exception of the piloncillo and raisins. The origin of this bread, however, can be traced back to Spain and Islamic North Africa.

Dough for semita bread mixed in a stainless steel bowl

Semita vs. Cemita

Semita is not the same as cemita, and to confuse things even more sometimes they are both spelled the same. Semita is the sweet bread recipe I have for you today, made with piloncillo, raisins, and sometimes nuts. Cemita is a savory roll, with sesame seeds on top, that is used to make tortas, huge tortas that are very famous in Puebla.

ball of dough in a stainless steel bowl with dough hook in it

Our Vegan Mexico Project

This recipe is part of an amazing project called Our Vegan Mexico, where 32 talented cooks will be showcasing, right here on Dora’s Table, 32 vegan Mexican recipes. Each recipe will be representing one state of the Mexican union.

dough hook stretching the dough to show the texture

With this project, I am hoping to encourage the Mexican community in the U.S., and the people of my country to take a chance and make the change to a plant-based diet. This recipe, which is representing the state of Chihuahua, is the creation of the talented Liliana Arellanes from @veganocosmico and here she is sharing her story with us.

Ball of dough resting in a stainless steel bowl

Liliana’s Story

My Name is Liliana Arellanes; I am from Chihuahua Mexico but have been living in Los Angeles, CA for the last 30 years. My path to Veganism began 25 years ago, for two fundamental reasons, respect, and compassion for all living beings, and respect for myself. Understanding above all, that it is not necessary to kill another living being in order to eat. In this way, we will be nourishing ourselves with Light and not death.

Pecans, raisins, orange zest and pilincillo are added to the dough in the bowl

 

I share the recipe of the famous “CHORREADAS DE PILONCILLO” a typical bread of the region, with a delicious flavor reminiscent of “small town” comfort food. I have added my personal touch, with raisins, nuts, and fragrant orange zest. It is an exquisite handmade sweet bread, with a spongy crumb that you can enjoy fresh out of the oven with a café de olla or a glass of almond milk.

 

dough mixed well and shaped into a ball again

The Recipe: Mexican Semita Bread (Semitas Chorreadas)

  • These semitas are the best when eaten still warm right out of the oven. If you eat them the next day be sure to warm them up before eating.
  • You can use ½ whole wheat flour and half unbleached white flour to substitute the bread flour.

four balls of dough on a parchment lined sheet tray

  • The nuts and raisins are optional, but I think they add a special touch.
  • You can substitute the coconut butter with vegan butter.
  • You can use plant milk instead of water in the recipe, just make sure it’s warm.

basket of mexican semita bread and a white plate with slices of semita

a closeup of a piece of semita bread being held in a hand

Three mexican semita bread rolls in a basket on a light blue background

Mexican Semita Bread (Semitas Chorreadas)

Mexican Semita Bread, studded with pecans, raisins, orange zest and piloncillo.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: pan dulce, semita bread, vegan mexican breakfast
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings: 4 Medium sized rolls
Calories: 824kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cup Bread flour
  • ½ cup Dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. Ground anise seed
  • 1 tsp Freshly ground cinnamon (Ceylon)
  • 1/3 cup Coconut butter, about 3 oz
  • 1 ½ cups Warm water
  • ½ cup Chopped pecans
  • ½ cup Raisins, soaked in the juice of one orange
  • 1 tsp. Orange zest
  • 1 tsp. Active dry yeast
  • 3.5 oz Piloncillo (about ½ cup)
  • ½ tsp. Salt

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients flour, sugar, anise, cinnamon, yeast, and salt
  • Add the warm water and coconut butter to the bowl and knead.
  • I use the hook attachment on my mixer at medium-low speed for 4-6 minutes or until the dough has come off the sides of the bowl and is stretchy but not sticky.
  • If you don’t have a mixer you can knead by hand for 10 minutes or until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for an hour.
  • To prepare your piloncillo, place it in a plastic bag, and crush it with the help of a hammer until finely ground.
  • Separate the crushed piloncillo un half. Place half of the piloncillo in a small bowl and mix with 1 tsp. Flour. This will be used to top the semitas before baking.
  • Once the dough is done rising, add the reaming half of the piloncillo, pecans, and orange zest and knead until all the ingredients are mixed evenly throughout.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Divide the dough in four, roll the pieces tightly into rounds, and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment. Press down on the rounds lightly. Brush the rounds with your favorite plant milk, and top with the piloncillo and flour mixture. Press down slightly on the piloncillo topping with your hands.
  • Cover the sheet tray with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for 20 minutes.
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 350°F.

Notes

  • These semitas are the best when eaten still warm right out of the oven. If you eat them the next day be sure to warm them up before eating.
  •  You can use ½ whole wheat flour and half unbleached white flour to substitute the bread flour.
  • The nuts and raisins are optional, but I think they add a special touch.
  • You can substitute the coconut butter with vegan butter.
  • You can use plant milk instead of water in the recipe, just make sure it’s warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 824kcal | Carbohydrates: 149g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 263mg | Potassium: 381mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 50g | Vitamin C: 3.1mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 3.1mg

What is capirotada? Well, according to google it’s Mexican bread pudding, but that’s not quite right. It differs greatly from American bread pudding because it does not have a custard base. It is toasted bread soaked in a piloncillo, cinnamon, and clove syrup, then layered with bananas, peanuts, raisins and toasted coconut. Traditionally it contains cheese, but for the vegan version I have simply omitted it. Piloncillo is unrefined whole cane sugar, and it has a very unique flavor.

This recipe for vegan capirotada is toasted bread soaked in a piloncillo-cinnamon syrup layered with bananas, peanuts, raisins and coconut.

This vegan capirotada (Mexican bread pudding) screams it’s Friday in lent. I realize it’s Thursday, but you know how it is when you have three kids demanding every minute of your attention. The other thing you should now is that my husband hates this dessert. Maybe hate is too strong a word, let’s just say he dislikes it very much. Though, I know many of you would agree that this is a dessert Mexicans hold close to their hearts, because it most likely reminds us of a special person who would make it without fail during lent.

This recipe for vegan capirotada is toasted bread soaked in a piloncillo-cinnamon syrup layered with bananas, peanuts, raisins and coconut.

Easter is right around the corner, and I’ve kind of been procrastinating like I always do. Also this year Karina’s birthday is on Easter. Any ideas for a vegan Easter-birthday party menu?

This recipe for vegan capirotada is toasted bread soaked in a piloncillo-cinnamon syrup layered with bananas, peanuts, raisins and coconut.

The Recipe: Vegan Capirotada

  • You can refrigerate the leftovers and eat it hot or cold.
  • If you cannot find bolillos feel free to use a baguette instead.
  • Toast the bread very lightly.
  • Feel free to add vegan cheese if you like. Enjoy!

This recipe for vegan capirotada is toasted bread soaked in a piloncillo-cinnamon syrup layered with bananas, peanuts, raisins and coconut.

This recipe for vegan capirotada is toasted bread soaked in a piloncillo-cinnamon syrup layered with bananas, peanuts, raisins and coconut.

Vegan Capirotada

4.5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Dora Stone

Ingredients

  • 5 Bolillos, large, stale, cut into 3/4 inch slices
  • 8 oz Piloncillo (1 cone)
  • ½ Ceylon Cinnamon stick
  • 4 cups Water
  • 2 Cloves, whole
  • 2 Bananas, sliced into rounds
  • ½ cup Raisins
  • ½ cup Roasted peanuts
  • ¼ cup Coconut, shredded, toasted, unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp. Sprinkles

Instructions

  • Turn on oven broiler on high.
  • Place sliced bread on a sheet tray and place under broiler 1 -2 min. or until bread is golden brown.
  • Flip the pieces of bread over and repeat the process. Remove from oven and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • In a small sauce pot, bring water, piloncillo, clove, and cinnamon to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and stir until the piloncillo has dissolved. Strain and place liquid back into the pot.
  • Add the raisins, and ¼ cup of the roasted peanuts to the liquid and bring back up to a simmer. Take off heat and set aside.
  • Line the bottom of an 8 X 8 square pan with a layer of bread. Pour ¼ of the liquid over the bread and cover with banana slices, raisins, and peanuts. Add another layer of bread and repeat the process. You should be able to fit 3 layers of bread.
  • When the final layer of bread has been laid down, pour the remaining liquid on top and cover with banana slices, toasted coconut, ¼ cup of remaining peanuts, and some sprinkles.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 to 20 min. or until syrup is absorbed. Remove from oven and let rest for 20 min. then serve

Notes

Refrigerate leftovers. Can be eaten hot or cold. If you cannot find bolillos use baguette or french bread.

 

Who knew death could be so colorful? Purple and orange tissue paper banners line altars decorated with marigold petals, colorful sugar skulls, and a bounty of fruit and vegetables. This is a celebration of life and triumph over death, the intermingling of the religious beliefs of the indigenous people of Mexico and the faith of the Spaniards that conquered them. The Day of the Dead is not only a holiday that honors those who have left us, but it is believed that on that special day the souls of the dead return to visit the living. Both the indigenous people and the Church of the Spaniards believed that death was not an end, but only a passageway to another life. That is why this is a joyous occasion, a homecoming festival, and at the same time a way to mock death and the power it holds over our bodies.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores, the Aztecs held rituals for the dead during the summer months in a joint celebration with the first days of harvest. The dead were traditionally buried with rich offering of ceramics, personal objects, and food. The offerings where meant to assist them in their journey to the afterlife. After the arrival of the Catholic missionaries their traditions and beliefs were merged with those of the indigenous people, and the festivities were moved to coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day, Nov 1st and Nov 2nd.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

 

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

The festivities have evolved over the years and differ from region to region. Some of the most popular ones include altars in honor of loved ones who have passed, preparing the dead’s favorite foods, and gathering at the cemetery to decorate a loved one’s grave, share a meal and reminiscence. My favorite tradition is the elaboration of the altars. The symbolism incorporated into the altars is so rich and meaningful that it truly honors the dead, those we keep in our hearts, but somehow with the passing of time fade in our memories.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Every altar has several key symbols which are:

water– as an offering to the soul to quench their thirst in their long journey

salt– as a symbol of purification and to preserve the body so it will not wither

fire– to represent the light of the faith and guide the spirits in their journey

incense– to elevate our prayers to God in heaven

flowers– marigolds, their color represents the radiance of sunlight and life

bread– as a symbol of the body of Christ, usually round loaves with topped with “bones” and known as pan de muerto

a picture of the person who the altar is dedicated to

religious images– to symbolize God as an intermediary between the living and the dead

the favorite foods and drinks of the departed– to delight the souls who will be visiting (the most common being Mexican hot chocolate, tequila, atole, mole, tortillas and rice

candy skulls– the indigenous held the skull as symbol of death being a part of life

tissue paper banners– purple to symbolize christian mourning and orange to symbolize Aztec mourning

fruits and vegetables– an offering from the earth

personal objects of the person being honored– to accompany them on their journey back

a dog– to protect and guide the spirits.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Every year we make an altar in our home to a loved one lost. It is our own special way of introducing our deceased loved ones to our children. We talk about the things that they liked to eat, do, and why they are important to us. On November 2nd we say a prayer for them, and keep hoping for the day we will be reunited in the afterlife. For years now, we have also been attending the Day of the Dead Festival in Oceanside, CA. The festival takes place in the Mission San Luis Rey. There are a variety of traditional foods such as tamales, tacos, tortas, aguas frescas, and pan de muerto. There is also face painting, sugar skull decorating, and regional dances. However, the highlight of the festival is the showcase of the altars, some representing various Mexican states and built by whole communities and families.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Out of all the wonderful Mexican traditions, the Day of the Dead might be the one that still holds firm to its pre-Hispanic roots. The loved ones lost, who we cannot see or hear, make themselves present in our homes, share our food, and partake in the rejoicing of life and the conquest of death.

Sources:

Los Dias de Los Muertos, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian and National Museum of American History, 2010

Simbolismos en el altar del Dia de los Muertos, Tanatologa Aida Maria Castro Morales, 2007 (http://www.slideshare.net/internatoni/simbolismos-en-el-altar-del-da-de-muertos)

The Recipe: Vegan Day of the Dead Bread (Pan de Muerto)

This recipe might be better than the non-vegan version, according to my husband. I have substituted the eggs with potatoes, resulting in a moist, soft, and sweet bread. It is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate or coffee.

pan-de-muerto2

Bake at 350F for 40- 45 minutes. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar.

pan de muerto

 

pan de muerto

Vegan Day of the Dead Bread

This vegan day of the dead bread or pan de muerto is tender, sweet, and delicious. Perfect for dipping on hot chocolate.
4.5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: day of the dead, pan de muerto, vegan
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 45 minutes
Servings: 4 loaves
Author: Dora Stone

Ingredients

  • 1 pack (.25 oz) Active dry yeast
  • ½ cup (3.5 oz) Almond milk, room temperature, 3.5 oz
  • 3 1/3 cup (17.5 oz) Bread flour
  • ¾ cup (5.5 oz) Sugar, granulated
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Orange zest
  • ¼ cup Orange juice
  • ¾ cup (6 oz.) Potato, Yukon gold, cooked, mashed
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp. (4 ¼ oz.) Vegan butter room temperature, cut into 1 inch pieces,

Topping

  • 2 tbsp. Vegan butter, melted
  • ½ cup Sugar, granulated

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the almond milk and add 2 tbsp. of the flour. Whisk to incorporate and let rest in a warm place for 20 min.
  • In the bowl of a mixer, with the dough hook, combine the dry ingredients: the rest of the flour, salt, sugar, and orange zest. Mix.
  • Add the wet ingredients: the orange juice, mashed potato, and yeast-flour mixture. Mix on low until the dough begins to incorporate.
  • Add the ½ cup + 1 tbsp. of softened butter little by little and increase speed to medium. Mix for 15 min. until the dough has come off the sides of the bowl and is stretchy but not sticky.
  • Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and fold the side over unto each other and flip. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  • The next day take the dough from the fridge, remove the plastic wrap and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place (70-75F) until the dough comes to room temperature, about an hour.
  • Take a piece of dough, weighing about 3 oz., and set aside. Divide the remaining dough into four pieces. Roll them tightly into rounds and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment. Press down on the rounds lightly.
  • Use the reserved dough to make 4 small balls the size of a quarter and set aside. Use the remaining dough to roll out eight strips long enough to cover the rounds. Place two strips on top of each round forming an x, use your fingers to press lightly on the strips to form knobs, they should resemble bones. Repeat the process with the rest of the rounds.
  • Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 ½ hrs. in a warm place (70- 75F) or until double in size.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350F. Place the small balls in the center of the rounds with a little bit of water. Bake for 20-30 min. until the rounds have become a rich brown color. Cover with foil and bake for 10 to 15 min. more, until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 190F. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.
  • While the bread is still warm melt 2 tbsp. of butter and brush the bread with it. Sprinkle evenly with sugar.
  • Let bread completely cool before eating.

Video

Notes

My favorite vegan butter is Earth Balance. This recipe is a combination of my dad’s recipe and Fanny Gerson’s method for Pan de Muerto in My Sweet Mexico.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

I’ve always been deeply suspicious of vegetarians and vegans. In restaurants they’re a pain in the butt, with all their special requests and demands. I have tried to be empathetic, but really, who willingly gives up all kind of animal product? Don’t they know how delicious a medium rare steak is? or a slice of Manchego cheese from Spain? I’m also guilty of being inconsiderate towards them, like the time we invited our vegetarian friend to eat at Animal Restaurant! We didn’t do it on purpose, we completely forgot. Luckily they had a couple of vegetarian options.

I recently watched the documentary Forks over Knives and read the book the China Study. I also just read a really good blog that talks about the myths of nutrition. All this reading has made me more aware of the food I eat or should be eating and what I feed my family. So as an offering for Lent we will be eating a whole foods plant based diet. This means no animal product of any kind, and no processed foods. How is this different from veganism? We are making this choice for health reasons not political ones. We love animals, but we also love to eat them. This has never been an issue for us, but when you read things like:

“Those who eat more whole, plant-based foods not only have lower cholesterol levels, but have less heart disease.”

“That a diet high in animal protein gives rise to cancer cells, and allows more rapid growth of tumors once they have officially formed.”

“Multiple sclerosis has been linked to animal food consumption, especially dairy consumption.”

“A whole-foods plant based diet can protect against and even treat a wide variety of chronic diseases.” (The China Study by T. Colin Campbell & Thomas M. Campbell II)

……..you can’t just continue to eat the way you did before. Will this eventually lead to a full conversion to the other side? I don’t think so, but it is yet to be seen.

How do we eat now? A week of dinners looks like this:

Monday: Pan roasted Steelhead Trout, Roasted Baby Fennel & Cherry Toamtoes, Celery Root Mash.

Tuesday: Eat out (this week we had pizza)

Wednesday: Turkey Chilli, Cornbread & Black Bean, Corn & Tomato Salad in a lime-avocado dressing.

Thursday: Roasted Chicken, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Kale braised with garlic, onion, apple cider, chicken stock, and almonds.

Friday: Whole wheat pasta, olive oil, oven dried cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, garlic, red pepper flakes, & mushrooms.

Saturday: Shredded Chicken Tinga, Avocado, Salsa, Tortillas & Beans.

Sunday: Leftover day

I buy most of our produce at the local farmer’s market, and cook almost everything from scratch. I’m not obsessive about buying organic, I focus on buying mostly local. I spend about $120-$140 a week on groceries for a family of 3. We drink water with our meals and enjoy wine, cocktails and beer whenever possible. When it comes to processed food we buy staples like bread, crackers, tortillas & peanut butter. We also indulge in the occasional donut, muffin, cookie, cake, and ice cream. We love ice cream!

When we eat out it’s another story. We are professional cooks, so we eat everything and anything we can get our hands on. We take it upon ourselves to taste as much as possible. Bottom line is, we enjoy eating and cooking, it’s our job and our passion.

I will be posting recipes here and pictures of what we’re cooking or eating on Pinterest, you can find us as Dora Stone. For now here is a recipe for whole wheat bread, it’s easy to make and contains no additives, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup like your typical grocery store sandwich bread.

The Recipe: Whole Wheat Honey Bread

This bread is hearty and soft with a touch of sweet. Perfect for sandwiches and toast.

Whole Wheat Honey Bread

Recipe adapted from Orangette: Rancho la Puerta Whole Wheat Bread
Print Pin Rate
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 2 loaves
Author: Dora Stone

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups Whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup Wheat bran
  • ½ cup Oat flour
  • 1 tbsp. Active dry yeast 1 pkg
  • 1 tsp. Salt, kosher
  • 1 tbsp. Oil, canola
  • 1/8 cup Honey
  • 1 ¾ cups Water warm

Instructions

  • In a large bowl combine the oil, active dry yeast, water, and honey. Stir and set aside for 5 to 6 minutes or until the mixture bubbles and foams.
  • Spray 1- 8×5 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl combine the flours and the salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients 1 cup at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon until all flour is incorporated.
  • Turn the dough out into a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. To test if the dough, insert your thumb into the dough for 5 seconds. If your thumb comes out clean the dough is ready.
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in the pan. Cover with a dish towel and let rise until it doubles in size, for about 1 hour.
  • Bake bread on the center rack of the oven for about 40 min. or until the crust is golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  • Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Notes

To make this vegan, you can substitute the honey for agave nectar