Just when you think the tamal season and tasty posada treats are over, January 6th comes along. Dia de Los Santos Reyes or Three Kings Day, when in many Mexicans families Christmas gifts are exchanged in the accordance of the three wisemen bringing gifts to baby Jesus. One of the most traditional foods related to this special holiday is the rosca de reyes or three kings bread. It’s a lightly sweetened yeast dough bread decorated with distinct ingredients and colors. It is supposed to resemble a crown. Unfortunately for me, the traditional decorations are not available where I live. But, if you know anything about me, that is not going to stop me from getting creative and improvising my own version. The tradition goes that the person who gets the baby jesus in there slice of rosca has to host a party which should include tamales and atole on February 2nd, dia de la candelaria. For my version of rosca de reyes, I simply used my pan de muerto(day of the dead) bread recipe and shaped it and decorated to resemble a crown with fine jewels. I used my stand mixer to prepare the dough, but it most certainly could be prepared by hand. Bring on the tamales! #roscadereyes
Yields 1 large loaf
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
1 cup warm water(110-115 degrees F)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons orange zest
4 cups, plus of bread flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
You Will Also Need
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1 cup of fruit cake mix with cherries
1/4 cup toasted almond slices
In a large measuring cup, combine the yeast, agave and warm water. Stir gently until mostly combined and let sit for 10 minutes.
In a bowl of the stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until smooth. Scrape down the sides as needed. Mix in the eggs and zest. Then mix in the yeast/water mixture just until combined.
Combine the flour and salt. Gradually mix the flour until dough begins to form. At this time the dough will still be sticky. Using the hook attachment to the stand mixer, mix on second or third speed for 15 minutes.
You will add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until dough pulls away from the sides easilt. Scrape the sides down as needed. Transfer dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until double in size.
Once dough proofs, transfer to a flat surface and knead gently for a few seconds. Divide the dough into three equal dough balls. Each should weigh about 15.4 ounces.
Working as quick as you can, roll each sections of the dough on a lightly floured surface into a long and narrow shape, about 24 inches long by 4-5 inches wide. Down the middle of each section of dough rolled out, sprinkle in some the fruit cake mix(not the cherries). If using the plastic baby Jesus, you can tuck him into one of the sections. Fold and roll sections as tight as you can.
Once you have the three sections filled and rolled, carefully braid them together and connect the ends as best that you can. Place onto parchment lined baking sheet. In the center, place an ovenproof bowl that has been greased in the center of ring. Cover and let proof for 45-60 minutes longer.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. After the dough proofs for the second time, brush the entire surface with eggwash. Place 8 cherries firmly into the dough and around the rosca ring. Sprinkle some of the fruit cake mix around evenly over the top. Srinkle on some toasted almonds.
Bake on the middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Internal temperature of bread should be at least 190 degrees.
Let the bread cool completely before storing in an airtight plastice storage bag.
Sorry I could not share any pictures of the preparing of the rosca. I intended on sharing a video, but didn’t have time to piece it together. Next time!