Roscón de Reyes – The Cake of Kings

A final post on Festive Food from me here.  The Twelve Days of Christmas come to an end on Twelfth Night, the evening of 5th January.  Traditionally in Spain this was the night to bake your Roscón de Reyes to be eaten the next day, Epiphany, which celebrates the arrival of The Three Kings.

For the children of Spain this means polishing their shoes to be put outside, awaiting the arrival of the Kings to fill them with gifts.  I guess little gifts were the norm way back, although that has changed over time.  Naughty children were left Carbón, or coal….so get polishing and I hope you´ve all been good.

The Roscón is a light, brioche like sweet bread which is filled and covered with candied fruits and often split and filled with whipped cream or sweet custard.  Additionally it is traditional to bake or put into the cake a small trinket (it used to be a figure of the Christ child) and a dried bean.  The finder of the trinket in their slice was King for the day, and the finder of the bean had to pay for the cake!

This is the first year I´ve attempted to make a Roscón, but I was pretty pleased with the results.  I hope my neighbour is too as I am taking this over to her this afternoon as a little thank you in return for a huge basket of Persimmons she gave me.  Happy Epiphany to you all on 6th January!

Ingredients

  • 200g approx of sultanas, glacé cherries and candied peel, soaked in alcohol if desired (see my Boozy Fruits recipe)
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 sachet of quick/easy blend yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150 ml milk
  • 100g softened butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Grated zest of one orange and one lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • To decorate – about 6 roughly crushed sugar cubes or 6 heaped teaspoons of sugar dampened with a few drops of water and thick slices of candied peel (see this excellent post on how to make your own over at Rufus´ Food and Spirits Guide) and some glacé cherries.  You will also need one beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of apricot jam diluted with a little water to glaze when the cake is baked.

Mix the flour, yeast and salt together. In a separate bowl beat the sugar, zests and butter until fluffy then gradually add the beaten egg, vanilla essence and milk.  It doesn´t matter if it curdles.  Now add the flour and knead to form a dough – if it is too dry, add a splash of milk.

Now add the fruits and knead for 5 minutes on a well floured surface with plenty of flour for your hands – things could get messy!  Put the dough into a bowl, cover and leave to double in size (about 2 hours).

Now knead again briefly and push a hole into the centre of the dough so that you can start to form a ring.  Imagine you are making a pizza doughnut with a hole in the middle.  When it is about the size of a large dinner plate, put it onto a lined baking sheet.  You can tuck the trinket/bean wrapped in foil under the cake now or put it into the cooled cake later if you are using. Note, next time I make one, I´ll make the hole in the middle larger as the dough rises quite a lot during baking.

Leave for about an hour until it has doubled in size and brush with beaten egg before pressing the candied fruit in around the top and sprinkling the sugar over.

Bake at 180º for about 45 minutes (check after 30 mins) and brush with the jam when it has cooled a little.  Leave to cool completely.  You can now serve it as it is or split it though the middle and fill with whipped cream or confectioner´s custard. Warning – this is a HUGE Roscón and will serve about 10-12 people.  It does keep for a few days, and if unfilled is also good sliced and toasted.

Adapted from a BBC Good Food Recipe.

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82 thoughts on “Roscón de Reyes – The Cake of Kings

  1. Very tasty looking. Here in the south, we do a Kings cake near Lent. It’s a Mardi Gras (Carnival) thing. Even though we’re not Catholic, Lent is a big deal to my Father’s side of the family. It’s the Louisiana roots I’m sure. (AKA formerly Catholic roots) Mardi Gras
    Here’s a link to what the Mardi Gras king cakes look like.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_cake

  2. It looks great! Lucky neighbours. Pretty glad the festive feeling is still strong in Spain as heading back tomorrow and going to have the blues!

  3. This looks delicious, Tanya. I must say, you have such a diverse accumulation of recipes at your disposal! You are knowledgeable and accomplished in 3 distinct cuisines and are equally at home fixing recipes from each of them. Good for you! And even better for “Big Man”! 🙂

    1. Well…you only get to see the best. We have had a few less successful outcomes, but the less said about them the better! Thanks for your kind words…I think the same could be said of you 🙂

  4. Hi Chica, I have to tell you of my boozy fruit disaster. For starters, I didn’t follow your recipe and I got the bright idea to replace the syrup from my maraschino cherries with brandy. I don’t know what possessed me! Anyway, last night we tried them and they were so potent. I just thought brandy and cherries go together right? Oh my, that jar is toast, even Greg couldn’t eat them. We both were unladylike and literally spit them out in the sink. Oh goodness, anyway this looks fantastic and thanks for the shout out.

    1. Oh Katherine, I am feeling faint at the thought of you and Greg having a kitchen disaster. Hard to believe so you may have to come round and revive me with some of the potent brandy! Such a shame…it probably needs something gentler otherwise you have to leave it for 6 months (like the cherry brandy) so that it “softens” a little. Am chuckling now, so have clearly revived! Thanks for going public on the disaster Katherine 🙂

  5. Mmm.. That does look good.. Think I’ll try this with just sultanas because I love sultana bread and this looks like a fancy way of doing it.. But I’m not sure, would sultana bread taste anything similar to my little idea??

  6. Wow, I love this! We have something similar here in Holland which we can buy from the shops. It is bread like with raisins, candied fruits, nuts and a filling of marzipan.

    This Spanish version is far nicer and indeed fit for a king.

  7. I’d be happy with the results too, it looks delicious. Everyone keeps asking me why I have my Christmas tree up and I said we don’t take them own till the 5th but i couldn’t remember why…the 12th day of Christmas of curse!

  8. wow that looks gorgeous and your first attempt? i would be pleased.. I love the history too, especially polishing the shoes- not something they do much nowadays.. c

    1. Thanks Celi. And you´re right re the shoes. I always remember my grandfather (an ex Royal Navy man) always polishing his shoes each evening plus those of me and my brother ready for school/work the next day)!

  9. What an impressive and beautiful cake, one I hadn’t heard of before and I love the story behind it. No wonder your neighbor was pleased with such a lovely thank you gift. Happy Epiphany to you, too!

    1. Well, I finally have an oven (second hand but I don´t mind) that reaches the temperature it´s supposed to reach…it helps enormously! I love the traditions too…and so many that we all share with their own special “tweak”.

  10. Your kitchen must have been filled with the best aroma. I love sweet breads lightlty toasated in the morning with tea. Your neighbor must have been thrilled with the roscon that you baked for her.

  11. Oh, that looks wonderful! I’ve never tried to make it – just lazy I suppose, as the boulangeries are full of them at this time of year, but home made must be so delicious!

  12. I have to say your roscon looks better than those really sweet cakey ones in the pastelerias. I always find Spanish pasteles too sweet but this sounds lovely more like a panettone, hope you had a good Reyes xx

    1. Yay Trevor! I´m sending you via the Kings a lovely new home to settle into. Wouldn´t that be nice?! Persimmons are kaki fruit – just another name (and I think it sounds so much more appetizing too)!

  13. Oh my!! I can’t believe you made a homemade Roscon!! It looks so fluffy and delicious!!! I’m bookmarking the recipe for next year!! 😉

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