Tuesday, January 3, 2012

6th January, Wise Men cake and end of Christmas

"Roscón de Reyes" is a traditional bread cake, served usually the morning of “Reyes” or Epiphany, January 6th. It is the last Christmas event.

"Dia de Reyes" is the day when children in Spain receive gifts in our Christmas time. The Three Wise Men, los Tres Reyes Magos, are the 3 kings who brought baby Jesus gifts. The brought gold, incense and myrrh to him, and now they bring presents to all of us. Even when nowadays most children get some Santa Klaus gift on December 25th, we mostly keep the tradition of the 3 Wise Men.

These very days, in each city or village of Spain you can join a parade of the Tres Reyes Magos, and many places offer a Reception of one of the 3 Kings – or their page-boys – so that the children can directly ask for their presents… but there is one condition:
If we were good during the year, we receive the presents. If we were bad… they leave just “coal” for us, which is a coal shaped black candy, pure sugar!

And on the very morning of the 6th, with the presents waiting on us, we eat the Roscón for breakfast all together. And not only this: the roscón has many surprises hidden inside: among others, usually a porcelain figure of a baby wrapped in foil and a dry bean are hidden in the dough. Whoever finds the baby will have good luck and be the king of the party, but if you find the bean - pay for the cake!

In case you want to enjoy a homemade roscón, we have included 2 recipes here: one easy and one difficult, for you to join the Wise Men day with some Spanish taste. We hope you enjoy them!

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Basic ingredients:
  • 400g flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 liter milk
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Dried mixed peel for decorating
  • Salt

  1. Mix the baking powder in a glass with 4 tbsp of the milk then add this to 100g of the flour and mix together until it forms a dough type mixture - cover with a clean tea towel and set aside until it doubles in size.
  2. Place the rest of the flour (300g) in a bowl and add the eggs, sugar, pinch of salt, the rest of the milk and zest of the lemon - mix well then add the butter and continue mixing for a further 2 mins then add the dough mixture - once a smooth dough has been achieved cover and set aside for 2 hour.
  3. After 2 hours knead the mixture a little before placing it on a greased baking tray in the form of a ring. Put some little figures wrapped up in foil inside the mixture and also a broad bean. Whoever finds the bean, according to tradition, can expect to receive coal rather than presents from the Kings. Brush with milk, decorate using the mixed peel, lightly sprinkle with sugar and place in a pre-heated oven (160 degrees) for 15 - 20 min.

Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

  • 4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 oz yeast
  • 2/3 cup mixed lukewarm milk and water (of equal parts)
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • Grated rind of 1 orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp brandy
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • Candied fruit pieces, cherries, oranges, etc.

Serves 8-10.
  1. Sift flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Make a hole in the center of the flour.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir and dissolve the dry yeast in the lukewarm milk-water mixture. Once dissolved, pour the dissolved yeast into the center of the flour. Stir in just enough flour from around the bowl to make a thick batter.
  3. With your hand, grab about a teaspoon of the flour from the side of bowl and sprinkle it over the top of batter. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place, away from any draft. Allow batter to turn spongy, about 15 minutes.
  4. In a medium-size mixing bowl, use a hand mixer or whisk to beat together the butter and sugar. The mixture should be smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  5. Put grated orange and lemon rinds, eggs, brandy and water to the bowl with flour mixture. Mix all. The dough will be sticky.
  6. Beat flour mixture until it is elastic and smooth. Beat in butter-sugar mixture and mix until the dough is smooth. Dough should be formed into a ball, then covered with oiled plastic wrap. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and leave it again in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in size. This will take approximately 1.5 hours.
  7. While you are waiting for the dough to rise, grease a large baking sheet with vegetable shortening and set aside for use later. If you will use a baking stone, no need to grease it.
  8. Once dough has doubled, remove plastic wrap and punch dough down. Lightly flour a clean counter or cutting board and place dough on it. Knead for 2-3 minutes. Then, using a rolling pin, roll dough into a long rectangle, about 2 feet long and 5-6 inches wide.
  9. Roll the dough on the long side into a sausage shape. Carefully place the dough onto the large baking sheet or stone and connect the ends together, forming a ring. If you will hide a bean or a small foil-wrapped, ceramic figurine in the cake, now is the time to tuck it under the dough. Cover with oiled plastic wrap again. Leave in a warm place and allow to double in size. This will take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  10. Heat oven to 350F degrees. Lightly beat the egg white in a bowl. Uncover the dough and brush the top of the cake. Decorate the ring with the candied fruit pieces. Push them into the dough slightly so that they do not fall off. 
  11. Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on a rack before serving.

In the last half of the 20th century, filling the roscón with whipped cream or thick custard became popular. Today about a third of the roscones sold in Spain are filled. If you want to fill yours, use a bread knife to slice the bread in half horizontally and carefully remove the top. Next, squeeze in the whipped cream or filling you've chosen and carefully replace the top. Keep refrigerated until serving if filled with cream or custard.

Recipies are taken from:

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