9 February 2015

Roscón de reyes (Three Kings Bread)

On the 5th and the 6th of January in Spain there is a tradition to eat a specific cake, Roscón de reyes, to celebrate the arrival of the Magi, or the three kings to Jesus birth. Inside the cake there is a small figurine hidden and a small fava bean, so whoever finds the figure is crowned king or queen and whoever finds the bean pays for the cake the year after.
This year on the 5th of January I was back in the UK to work and there is no bakery where I could find this cake and so I started the challenge to make one myself. I've had a few fail attempts (one didn't rise, one was to hard...) and it took me a while to actually get it right. It's a shame it was almost February by then but once I smelled it and tasted it it felt like Christmas at home just for a little bit.

Serves 8

  • 320 g of shifted white bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 25 g of fresh yeast
  • 125 ml of full fat milk
  • 100 g of caster sugar or 1 tsp of liquid sweetener 
  • 75 g of melted unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs (1 egg and 1 yolk)
  • Zest from one orange
  • 1 Tbsp of orange blossom water (You can find this at Waitrose or some international shops)
  • 1/2 tsp of fine salt
  • (optional) 1 Tbsp of dark rum
  • Decoration (usually candied fruit or flaked almonds, icing sugar...). I've got cherries and pumpkin for this one.
  • Filling (mine is not filled with anything, but it can be fill with cream, custard, chocolate...)

Warm the milk in a pan until it's lukewarm (not hot) and mix with the fresh yeast. Make sure the yeast is dissolved and let it rest for 15 minutes. Mix the flour, sugar and orange zest in a big bowl.

Once the milk mixture is ready add it to the flour and mix well. The dough should be fairly wet at this stage. Then add the butter, the egg yolk, the orange blossom water, the salt and the rum if using. Mix thoroughly. This is a very wet mixture, so don't be scared if it doesn't resemble any other dough you've seen. Work it a bit on the bowl until it gets some consistency.

Once the dough is fairly mixed, sprinkle some flour on a working surface and put your dough in there. It's going to stick everywhere, so add some flour to your hands as well. You need to knead it for a fair while for the gluten to form. When you feel like the dough is not sticking as much as it used to and it comes loose if you knead it fast enough then it is ready (15-30 minutes, depending on your practice). Make a ball with it and leave it to rise in a bowl cover with transparent film in a warm area of the house.

It needs to rise to at least twice its size for around 2 - 2.30 hours depending on the warmth of the place. Knead it for a bit to break all the air bubbles and shape into a ring. The best way to do this is by making a hole in the middle of the ball and carefully extend it. Place it on an oven bake tray and cover with some transparent film again. I used tin foil for this one because I run out of baking parchment, but if you have some it's so much better for this than tin foil!

If you want to add the figurine and the fava bean this is the moment to add it. Just push it thorugh the dough and close the gap after. Leave it to rise for another hour in the tray. When it's ready, beat the remaining egg and brush it over the dough.

Now it's time to place the decoration that you have. I had cherries and pumpkin, but feel free to improvise. I've seen almost any type of nuts and candied fruits. You can also leave it plain and add some icing sugar later. Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes at 160º C until golden.

If you are filling it, leave it until it cools and then slice it in half like a sandwich and add the filling. Enjoy with nice mug of a hot chocolate!

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 8 Servings
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 302
Calories from Fat 86
Total Fat 9.5g15%
Saturated Fat 5.1g26%
Cholesterol 41mg14%
Sodium 25mg1%
Potassium 55mg2%
Carbohydrates 44.9g15%
Dietary Fiber 1.4g6%
Sugars 13.8g
Protein 7.2g
Vitamin A 5% · Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 3% · Iron 14%

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