Thursday, November 1, 2012

T'antawawa Breads - Andean Bread Babies - and the Day of the Departed in Peru

ANDINA/Carlos Lezama 01/11/2011

ANDINA/Carlos Lezama 01/11/2011

ANDINA/Carlos Lezama 01/11/2011

Shortly before we left Peru,  t'antawawas began to appear in outdoor markets and bakeries around the city of Cuzco. Wawas are Andean bread figures that usually resemble swaddled infants. Companion breads shaped like ladders (so the souls of the dead can climb up to heaven), stars, crosses, or angels with wings to help children and babies to rise to heaven were also available . The breads are made from a sweet brioche-like dough and they are an important part of family rituals that are associated with All Souls and All Saints Days in Peru. On Novemeber 1 (Día de los Muertos), native customs mix with religious beliefs and some families visit cemeteries carrying a feast for the dead that includes the wawas, tamales and roast pig.. There is a belief that the dead will return to earth if they see they are being remembered by their families and friends. A picnic, with a place set for the dead, is held at the grave site in the hope of enticing the dead to return. Celebrations in areas outside of major cities are even more tied to superstitution and can be quite festive because some Andean villagers believe the dead will rise from their graves at midnight to join in the feast. While city dwellers are less enthusiastic, they, too, visit the cemeteries and leave small offerings for their dead. Bob and I were not able to extend our visit to observe the ritual, so I'm truly grateful to Stuart Starrs at en Peru for giving me permission to use the cemetery photos you see in today's post. I'm including a recipe for t'antawawas that those of you who love to bake might want to try. The recipe was developed by Marion Blazes and it can be found at - South American Foods. Here's how the bread babies are made.

T'antawawas - Andean Bread Babies...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Marion Blazes and South American Foods

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 cups bread flour
2/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon powdered yeast
1 egg yolk
raisins and sesame seeds for decoration


1) Add flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves to bowl of a standing mixer and mix briefly. Make a small well in center of flour, and add water, milk, egg, butter, shortening, vanilla, and yeast. Knead, using dough hook attachment, for 5 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic and does not stick to side of bowl. If dough appears dry or crumbly, add water, a teaspoon at a time, and knead until it's smooth. If the dough appears sticky, add small amounts of flour and knead, until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in an oiled bowl and let it rise in a warm place for 1-1/2 to 2 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator).
2) Divide dough into four parts and shape each portion into a ball. Roll balls of dough on the countertop until they are smooth. Let dough rest for 10 minutes. To shape dough: Pinch a small part of ball of dough and shape it into a head (it should stay attached to the bigger piece). Press dough onto a cookie sheet, flattening and shaping it as you go, so that it resembles a large circle topped with a small circle. Press a small round cookie cutter into the smaller circle of dough, to make the outline of the "face". Using scissors, snip pieces of dough partially off of body, stretching and curling them decoratively, and press them back down into dough. Using a skewer, poke two holes for eyes and fill each one with half of a raisin. Let dough rise for 30 minutes to an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and paint breads with the egg wash - on the body and lightly around the face. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool and serve. Makes 4 small wawas.

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Barbara F. said...

What beautiful bread, and for a beautiful custom. xo

A Paixão da Isa said...

esse pao deve ser mt bon gostei mt das fotos que sao mt bonitas nao conhecia bravo bjs

Anonymous said...

the bread is amazing color, what a wonderful tradition,

Camila said...

What a colorful and beautiful way to honor those that have passed on. Thank you and the photographer for kindly sharing such beautiful photographs of this rich custom all the way from Peru. Feliz dia de los Muertos. A warm hug from Houston.


safire said...

This bread is so beautiful and sounds flavorful!

Priya said...

Wow wonderful looking beautiful breads.


These "guaguas de pan" are made here in Ecuador to honor the "Dia de Difuntos" too, which is tomorrow. The ones here are not so huge, they're very cute and dainty. In the supermarket you can find them in a kit for children to decorate them and my g'girls love to! The bread baby comes with a few colors ready to be used for hair, skirts or pants, etc....they are fun. Than everyone goes to the different cemeteries to honor and even spend the day with their loved ones that passed on before. I loved your pictures from Peru. Thanks for sharing.


Your trip, Mary, must have been amazing. And the bread looks so fun.


Alessandra said...

What a great experience to have when traveling. Love the post, thanks Mary.


Tricia @ Saving room for dessert said...

Beautiful breads and fantastic photos. They tell such a great story.

My Little Space said...

So, this is the traditional bread for their ancestors. How amazing the view looks! Just like the Chinese.
Hope you're all well. Take care, Mary.

Barbara said...

I knew about the Day of the Dead in Mexico, so was familiar with the rituals. Did not know about the bread, Mary. Very interesting. Super photos.

Rebecca Subbiah said...

great post love learning about other cultures

Hovkonditorn said...

Yes, really beautiful breads!

David said...

Mary, Nice looking loaves of bread! Interesting custom...that I'm glad I don't have to celebrate. While I believe in commemorating those loved ones who have passed, this celebration is out of my commfort zone. Very interesting and colorful photos... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Debs @ The Spanish Wok said...

Hi Mary. Lovely post and pics too. My monthly blog event is celebrating Dia de los Muertos this month.

Your post would be perfect to participate, come check out the details here........

Come check out The Monthly Blogger event over at The Spanish Wok, ALL bloggers are welcome. See here for details and current theme. You are also welcome to visit our FB page too here.

Joanne said...

Those bread babies are adorable! Almost too cute to eat.

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