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5 Jan 2015
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January 6 is Kings Day (El Dia de los Reyes) in Mexico, a long-standing tradition that is deeply rooted in Mexican history. Based on the story of the three wise men, this holiday is when local children open their presents (not Christmas Day) and the Rosca de Reyes sweet bread with hot chocolate is served. The Rosca has a dual purpose. Besides being a glorious buttery flavored sweet bread, inside the bread lies a hidden Baby Jesus. Each slice of the sweet bread is served at dinner with each person hoping HIS OR HER piece holds the plastic replica of Jesus. Whoever is the ‘winner’ hosts the next festival day dinner, El Dia de la Candelaria February 2.

Recipe for Rosca de Reyes January 6
This is buttery sweet bread with candied fruits. Thankfully you can only find it once a year as it is so delicious I could get into the habit of eating this sweet bread every night. As a treat, I love it! But only once a year, thank goodness.

Ingredients for the Bread

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 envelope or 2 1/4 teaspoons of dry active yeast
  • 4 cups all purpose flour with a bit extra for dusting
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 large eggs (yolk and whites)
  • 2 large egg yolks mixed with 2 TBLSP milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Orange zest from two oranges
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter (6 ounces)

Ingredients for the Toppings

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 6 TBLSP butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • Dried and candied fruit of your choice (cherries, cranberries, figs, dates, mango, oranges)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 TBLSP cream
  • 1/4 cup white sugar for sprinkling


  1. Put warm water into a glass bowl and add the yeast. Stir until the yeast is dissolved, then let the mixture stand until a slight foam begins to form (5 to 7 minutes). Stir in 1/2 cup of flour mix all ingredients until incorporated then cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Place the bowl in a warm place until it is double in size, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the remaining flour, eggs, egg yolks, sugar, orange zest from one orange, salt and butter in a large bowl. You can do this step by hand or you can use a mixer. Mix until all ingredients are combined and the mixture seems crumbly.
  3. Add yeast mixture to the bowl and mix well. The dough will feel sticky. Place flour on a flat surface and knead your dough until it is smooth and easily handled. If more flour is needed, continue adding a little flour to the surface until you can easily knead but still have a bit of stickiness to the dough.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl (grease with butter). Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm area. Wait 2 hours so your dough doubles in size. If you are honoring the tradition of the hidden baby Jesus, push the plastic doll into the underside of the ring, covering any marks so it cannot be seen. If you wish to wait until after the baking process the baby Jesus can be pushed into the underside of the ring after baking.
  5. While waiting for your dough, start preparing your toppings. First cream butter and confectioner sugar together. Add the flour, egg yolk until you have a creamy paste. Let sit.
  6. Once the dough is double in size, remove the dough from the bowl and form into a circle. This can be done two ways. Either punch a hole in the center of the ball and work the dough from the inside into a ring, or stretch your dough into a long rope and join the two ends into a circle. Place on a greased cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Put in a warm area for 45 minutes or until the ring has finished rising.
  7. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees with the rack on the lower level in oven, about 3/4 of the way from the top.
  8. Gather all your candied and dried fruit. Whisk the egg yolk and cream together for the egg wash. take out your egg/confectioner’s sugar mixture. Once your ring has finished rising, start decorating the top of the ring. Decorate gently as you do not want to deflate your ring. First spread the egg wash on the ring with a pastry brush. Roll the sugar/egg mixture into long strips and attach them to six corners of the ring, laying the dough from middle to outer edge. Place some of the candied fruit on the top of the dough, pressing the fruit gently into the dough. Sprinkle the dough ring with sugar and place in the oven.
  9. Bake the ring for 10 minutes at 375. Reduce the heat after 10 minutes to 350 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes. Your bread is ready if the top is a nice golden brown. Every oven is different so you may need a few extra minutes to obtain that golden brown.
  10. Remove your bread from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. If you want to add your baby Jesus after baking this is the time to press the plastic doll on the underside of your bread. Serve immediately or keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days. My dream Rosca de Reyes is fresh out of the oven!

Serve this delicious sweet bread with traditional hot chocolate. Make a toast to the three kings and you have a great traditional Mexican treat. If you happen to be in the Riviera Maya during this holiday, Rosca de Reyes are found in every major grocery store and bakery. The bread can be purchased in individual portions (without a baby Jesus) or in larger family rings. Enjoy!