Rosca de Reyes is the traditional pastry bread eaten on Three Kings Day across Latin America and beyond. The best part for kids is a hidden surprise in the bread–a plastic baby (representing the Three Kings’ search for baby Jesus). Whoever finds it in their slice has good luck or some other obligation. For example, in Mexico traditionally, the person who found the baby had to host a party on February 2, known as Día de la Candelaria–this ritual is no longer as common though everywhere in Mexico today. Although there are many variations of rosca de reyes, this recipe is from Mexico.
4 cups of flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 package of yeast dissolved in warm water–let sit for 10 minutes
1 t orange flower water (you can substitute vanilla extract for this)
1 t salt
Crystallized lemons, oranges or figs
Candied cherries, raisins, dates can also be used
1 plastic baby doll (to hide inside the cake)
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1. Measure out the flour in the bowl. Make a hole in the middle of the flour. Add in the sugar, half of the oil, butter, 5 eggs, yeast and salt. Mix well.
2. Knead until the dough is elastic and not sticky. Add a tad more flour or water if needed.
3. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with saran wrap or a wet towel. Leave it in a warm place. Let it rise until it doubles in size.
4. While the dough is rising, make a paste with the powdered sugar, remaining vegetable oil and 1 beaten egg.
5. When the dough has risen, knead it.
6. Form the dough into a long strip. Enclose it in a circle. TIP: Put a round bowl or ball in the middle so it holds shape (take out before cooking).
7. Hide the doll somewhere in the dough—insert from bottom.
8. Heat the oven to 400º F.
9. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the top.
10. Spread the sugar paste on top of the bread. Garnish with the crystallized fruit in a decorative way.
11. Cook for 30 minutes, or until rosca is brown.