This Roscon de Reyes, or Three Kings Cake is a Spanish recipe that is usually served on the Three Kings’ Day (el día de los Reyes Magos) January 6th. It celebrates the Epiphany and is the real Christmas Day (celebration wise) for most Spaniards.
As for when to eat the roscón, that depends on who you ask. Some families dig into theirs as soon as they get home from the Three Kings Day parade on January 5. Others have it for breakfast on the morning of the 6th, and still others hold off until afternoon on Three Kings Day to have it for merienda, or the midday snack around 6 p.m.
Roscones can come in several different varieties, all of them delicious. Some are plain and come without any filling. Others contain fresh whipped cream, chocolate truffle cream, or even candied spaghetti squash (it’s better than it sounds!).
In addition, you’ll find two plastic-wrapped figurines inside the roscón: a dried fava bean and a small king-shaped figurine.
Whoever gets the slice of the cake with the small king is the “king” or “queen” of the banquet. As a result, this person will have good luck for the rest of the year. Many roscones come with a paper or cardboard crown for this person to wear.
On the other hand, whoever finds the fava bean has to pay for the roscón the next year!
Roscón de Reyes ~ Three Kings Cake
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- 4 cups plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ounce dry baker’s yeast
- ⅓ cup milk lukewarm
- ⅓ cup water lukewarm
- 6 tbsp butter at room temperature
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 1 large Rind of orange grated
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp brandy or rum
- 1 egg white
- 2 cups assorted candied fruit chopped in different sizes
- Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, and make a well in the middle.
- In a smaller bowl, dissolve the yeast into the lukewarm milk and water. Once the yeast is completely dissolved, pour the mixture into the well of the flour.
- Scrape in just enough flour from around the well to create a thick batter, sprinkle some extra flour on top, and cover with a kitchen towel. Leave the bowl in a warm place for around 15 minutes, or until the batter is doughy and sponge-like.
- Meanwhile, in another medium mixing bowl, use an electric beater to combine the butter and sugar until creamy.
- Once the dough is appropriately spongy, add the eggs, brandy, orange rind, and a splash of water to it. Mix well, until the dough is elastic and a bit sticky.
- Add the butter and sugar mixture to the dough and mix until smooth.
- Shape the dough into a ball and cover in oiled plastic wrap. Keeping it in the large mixing bowl, cover it once more with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place away from draft. As the dough proves, it will double in size. This can take anywhere between 1 to 2 hours depending on the strength of the yeast culture.
- While the dough rises, grease a large baking sheet for later use.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap. Punch down the dough and place it on a lightly floured countertop or cutting board.
- You need to knead the dough for two or three minutes, and then roll it into a large rectangle; roughly 2 feet by 1/2 a foot.
- Next, roll the dough inwards from the long edge to create a sausage shape. Bring the ends together to create the iconic donut, and place on the baking sheet. Want to add the bean or a ceramic toy? Do it now by poking it withing the dough.
- Wrap the dough once more with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for roughly one hour to again double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Once the dough has risen, lightly beat the remaining egg white and brush it across the top. Cover the cake in the assorted dried fruits, pushing gently so they do not fall off of the cake while it is baking.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Cool on the rack before serving.
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