Ready for Los Reyes!

January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, is called El Dia de Los Reyes, in Spain, and all over Latin America. My Mami would tell me stories, when I was a little girl, about celebrating El Dia de Los Reyes in Puerto Rico when she was a little girl. She filled my imagination with images of children filling their shoes or shoe boxes with hay, or grass and place them under the bed for the camels to eat. The Three Reyes Magos would then leave little presents for the children (if they had been well behaved for the past year), where the hay had been. Mami never made Rosca de Reyes, but in Spain, and especially in Mexico, a rosca is served for the traditional merienda, along with chocolate caliente.

The rosca would be baked with a special surprise inside: a small porcelein figurine that represented the Infant Jesus (today a bean can be substituted). The person who gets the piece with the figurine, is responsible for buying the tamales for El Dia de la Candelaria, or Candelmas, February 2. Needless to say, these are the little “traditions” that I love to introduce to my children, educating them to the richness of culture and tradition in their Latino heritage.

My search for the perfect rosca was on! I must have tasted a truckload of roscas, from all over: Mexico, the United States, friends’ recipes. My rosca is going to vary a bit , but I served it to a good friend of mine from Puebla, and her eyes got wide as she smiled. “This tastes exactly like the one back home!!” That is certainly a good enough critique for me. Let me walk you through it.

1 package dry yeast
1 tablespoon warm water
1/2 cup milk
1 stick butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla

1. Proof the yeast in the warm water for about 10 minutes, or until foamy. Heat the milk gently in a samall saucepan, with the sugar, salt and butter, but do not let it scald. Set it aside until the temp returns to about 110 degrees, and add the vanilla.

2. Stir some of the milk mixture into the beaten eggs, whisking, then pour the egg mixture into the milk. Place the dry ingredients, along with the zest into the bowl of a standing mixture, and with a paddle attachment, slowly stir while pouring the egg/milk mixture in.

Do not overbeat, you want a well incorporated, smooth but still soft dough. Using a rubber spatula, turn the dough out onto a well floured board.

3. Knead gently for about 5 minutes, shape into a ball, place in a well oiled bowl, then flip the ball over. Cover with a towel, and set aside for the first rise in a warm, dry place for about an hour to 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Not all roscas have a filling, but you know me…less is not more, so I am making a marzipan filling that is going to complement the citrus notes in the bread.

2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons orange flower water
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teasponn almond extract
1 dry bean (to substitute the figurine)

4. Place the ingredients in a bowl , and stir to combine with a fork. Punch down the dough and roll ot on a well floured board to a size of about 20 x 18. Leave a margin of about 2 inches on one side of the rectangle where you will end the roll and pinch to seal.

Almond flour-sugar mixture

5.  Pick the dough up on the long side nearest you, andgently roll the dough and almond flour mixture away from you. When the roll is complete, pinch the dough together to form a seam along the length of the roll.

6.  Join the 2 ends of the roll together, pinching again to form a seam in the ring, and place on an oiled sheet.

7. Cover with a towel and set aside to rise for the second time, 30-45 minutes. Brush the ring with 1 egg and a tablespoon of milk, then decorate with sliced almonds and candied fruit peel Brush again with the glace, then sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown, and hollow sounding when you thump it with your finger. Let cool and enjoy with hot chocolate or cafe con leche.

Don’t forget, the person who gets the slice with the “bean” has to spring for lunch on Candlemas!

Feliz Dia de Los Reyes!


6 Responses to “Ready for Los Reyes!”

  1. 1 daisy January 19, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Hey Nola!

    I am so glad you loved it!



  2. 2 springhop January 28, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    I baked two of these; one as a hostess gift the other for a brunch. It is delicious, beautiful and was well well received. Worth every minute of preparation time. Thank you!

  3. 3 daisy January 29, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Dear Springhop:

    Glad to hear.. Next time I would love to see a picture of the final result!..



  4. 4 martha February 15, 2008 at 9:43 am

    stupid question – do you add the proofed yeast after pouring the egg mixture into the milk?

    need soonest!

  1. 1 Nola Cuisine » King Cake Recipe Trackback on January 18, 2007 at 9:46 am
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