In Latin America and Spain, the celebration of Epiphany Day on January 6, widely known as Día de Reyes, marks the end of the holidays. As such an important day, it comes with its own food and drink traditions, the most important being the traditional Rosca de Reyes, the equivalent of Louisiana’s famous King Cake.
This iconic pastry is a sweet, oval or ring-shaped sourdough bread decorated with candied fruit to represent the jeweled crowns worn by the Three Kings when they visited the Baby Jesus. It can be enjoyed from the evening of January 5 until January 6, usually with a cup of hot chocolate. If you want to be part of this fun tradition, there are a few places where you can buy a perfectly legitimate rosca.
Mexican bakery La Panadería in San Antonio has miniature roscas on their regular pastry list, but during Reyes’ season, they also bake family-friendly pastries. With flavors of orange and guava and embellished with a chocolate and vanilla butter crust and candied cherries, they are as beautiful as they are delicious.
In Mexican culture, it is a tradition to hide a plastic baby to symbolize Jesus, and anyone who finds him in his slice should throw a party on February 2 for family and friends. As not everyone knows the tradition, La Panadería includes the baby separately so that people can hide it themselves. You can pre-order a small rosca for $ 4.50, a six-pack of small roscas for $ 24, or a family rosca for $ 24.
Manufactured in-house at all sites, La Monarca bakeryRosca de Reyes is made from a sweet, butter-rich brioche dough topped with pecans, candied cacti and their butter-based cookie crust. Baby Jesus figures come to the side to hide you inside. If you Pre-order you can get a medium sized cake for $ 20 for in-store pickup only. Otherwise, it is available by slice and whole for $ 3 and $ 24, respectively for same day orders with possibility of delivery.
In Spain, the tradition and the recipe are a bit different. As well as hiding a plastic baby or king, the Roscón de Reyes also hides a dried bean. If you get a slice of it with the baby, it’s your lucky day, but bite the bean and it’s your job to buy the cake next Christmas.
At José Andrés Mercado Petite Spain and Jaleo restaurants, you can order the famous Roscón de Reyes from January 3-6, for pickup or delivery in New York and Washington, DC make them for Jaleo over the years, ”says Rick Billings, Executive Chef of Global Tapas from ThinkFoodGroup.
“Roscón de Reyes is served the day before or in the morning of El Día de los Reyes Magos, or Epiphany, on January 6. The base is a brioche dough; rich and light water with orange blossom, decorated with dried fruits, almonds and sugar.
After cooling, we open it and fill it with whipped cream. We hide a bean and a small ceramic king figurine in the cake. According to tradition, if you find the bean you have to buy the Roscón next year, but if you find the king you can wear the crown and you will be lucky for the whole year.
Chef Billings thinks everyone should make it a tradition to celebrate the day with one of these pastries, so he provides his recipe in case there isn’t a bakery in your area that makes roscas.
Roscon de Reyes
Recipe by Rick Billings from ThinkFoodGroup
For 8 people
For the cake:
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons of granulated yeast
1/2 cup of milk
1/3 cup sugar, more if needed
1/3 cup butter
1 egg + 1 yolk
Zest of 1/2 orange
1 teaspoon of dark rum
1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Candied orange peel, for garnish
Candied cherries, for garnish
1 ceramic king or baby figurine
Place the bread flour, baking powder, milk and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on low heat for 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium and blend for 3 more minutes.
Reduce speed to lowest setting and add butter. Once incorporated, increase the speed to one setting and continue to mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 12-15 minutes.
Coat a large container with non-stick cooking spray, add batter and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place, such as an oven, and let rise for 24 hours. Remove the dough and roll it into a ball on a floured surface. Let stand 30 more minutes.
Degass the dough and make a hole in the center. Continue shaping and stretching the dough outward into a donut shape, about 14 to 16 inches in diameter. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and rise for about 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and yolk with 1 tablespoon of water to make the gilding. In a separate bowl, mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar with equal amounts of water. Brush the dough with the gilding and place the candied fruit on top, then the wet sugar.
Bake until golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool.
For the whipped cream filling:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk. Whisk over medium heat until stiff peaks form and transfer to a pastry bag with a star tip.
Cut the roscon in half. Arrange the cream on the bottom half, then place a bean and a king on the cream and place the other half on top.