I thought I was finally done with holiday baking, but I had forgotten that today is Three Kings Day, the last day of Christmas in Mexico. Also known as Epiphany, this is the day the Three Kings bring gifts to good little Mexican girls and boys. Traditionally Rosca de Reyes, a yeast bread, is served with a plastic baby Jesus hidden in the dough. The lucky person who finds the baby Jesus in their slice hosts La Dia de la Candelaria in February and serves tamales. The very first time we were invited to a Three Kings dinner in Mexico, guess who found the baby Jesus in her slice. Yup, so the next month, we ordered five dozen tamales from our local tamaleria. And here I thought La Dia de la Candelaria had something to do with candles.
My roscas are in the oven right now, not with a plastic baby, but with an almond in each one. I could not bring myself to use plastic as an ingredient in bread.
I used an egg and yeast bread recipe which I found on the internet and of course made my own changes, primarily decreasing the sugar and using part whole wheat flour. It was easy to mix and knead with the Kitchen Aid and its dough hook but, like any bread machine recipe, it can be mixed and kneaded by hand. The twinkling stars designate holiday recipes.
Rosca de Reyes makes 2 loaves
- 2 cups (280 grams) all purpose white flour, more if needed
- 2 cups (250 grams) whole wheat flour, more if needed
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 lightly beaten eggs (250 grams, weighed without shells)
- 4 oz. ( 114 grams) soft butter
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) warm milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon anise seed
- 4 oz. (116 grams) raisins
- 1 or 2 almonds
- Mexican ate (see glossary on right), or assorted dried fruit
- 1 beaten egg
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. (180 C.)
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, or in a large mixing bowl if mixing by hand, mix beaten eggs, milk, butter, flour, salt, sugar, yeast, vanilla, cinnamon and anise seed. Since the water content of flour can vary widely, you may need to add more flour if the dough is too wet (or more water if it is too dry). Add flour gradually until the dough comes together in a ball. Knead with the dough hook or by hand for five minutes.
- Add the raisins and knead just until incorporated, either with the dough hook or by hand.
- Turn dough onto floured surface. Divide the dough into two portions, form each into a ball, flatten with your hands, and punch a hole through the center. Gradually stretching the dough, increase the size of the hole until you have a ring or oval.
- Place rings on a greased baking sheet. Arrange strips of dried fruit or ate decoratively on the surface of the ring and put in a warm place to rise until double in size.
- When the dough has doubled in size, brush with beaten egg and bake for about 40 minutes.
- The bread is done when it is a nice, golden color and you can hear a hollow thump when you tap the bottom of a rosca with your fingers. Slice and enjoy, hoping you are not the one who gets the almond.
Mini Roscas with Frangipane (Cooking in Mexico)