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Rosca de Reyes or Three Kings Bread, Plus Healthy Eating Tips

by Spicie Foodie on January 4, 2013

Rosca de Reyes or Three King's Bread by Spicie Foodie (Sweet bread flavored with almond extract, orange zest and craisins)

Just when you thought the holidays were over I have one more to tell you about before closing out the season. January 6th is el Dia de los Reyes Magos or Three Wise Men Day. It is a traditional Christian holiday celebrated in Spain, Latin American and many other Christian countries around the world. The holiday marks the 12th day of Christmas, or Epiphany, for the church. On this day the three kings or wise men (also known as Magi), visited and brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

Rosca de Reyes or Three King's Bread by Spicie Foodie (Sweet bread flavored with almond extract, orange zest and craisins)

Religion aside, in my home country of Mexico this day is specially important to children. For niños it means gifts from the Reyes Magos. The night before on January 5th little children all over Mexico leave their shoes near the doorway, outside or perhaps by the window, with a note to the Reyes. They ask for a gift and state the reasons why they deserve it. As you can imagine it was one of my favorite holidays as a child. My siblings and I received gifts on December 25th and additional, though not as extravagant, gifts on January 6th.

Rosca de Reyes or Three King's Bread by Spicie Foodie (Sweet bread flavored with almond extract, orange zest and craisins)

Nowadays as a non-Christian for me this holiday is about good childhood memories and family traditions. One of the traditions for Mexican families is to eat this bread called Rosca de Reyes or King’s Bread. On January 6th after opening presents from the Magi we sit down to drink a cup of chocolate caliente (hot chocolate) with a slice of this sweet bread. Often times families and friends gather for a celebration and the Rosca is always present and served to the guests. The bread I can best describe as a cross between brioche and fruit cake -sort of. The bread is shaped in an oval form and is decorated with candied fruits. The shape and fruits are meant to replicate the jeweled crowns of the Wise Men. Additionally a porcelain baby Jesus figurine is hidden in the dough before baking. For those attending parties, and are served the Rosca, it is considered good luck to be the one who finds the Jesus figurine in their bread serving. That lucky person must also host a party on February 2nd for the Candlemas holiday.

Rosca de Reyes or Three King's Bread by Spicie Foodie (Sweet bread flavored with almond extract, orange zest and craisins)

Being that I don’t live in Mexico instead of buying a Rosca I bake our own. I’ve been baking one for the past several years and every time experimenting with flavors and fruits. This year I’m happy with the results and would like to share my recipe. I’m not a fan of candied fruit so I swapped it out for dried fruit and dyed decorative toppings. The great thing about this bread is that it can easily be adjusted and tweaked to your personal tastes.

Before we begin I would like to tell you to feel free to replace the craisins and raisins for candied fruit of your choice. It is important not to skip the soaking time to avoid burnt toppings. Additionally I used half all purpose and half whole wheat flour but feel free to use only all purpose if you like. It is important to use a scale for accurate weight measurements. The recipe makes one large bread, I cut the dough in half before rising and froze one half and baked the other.

Rosca de Reyes or Three King's Bread by Spicie Foodie (Sweet bread flavored with almond extract, orange zest and craisins)

4.7 from 6 reviews
Rosca de Reyes or Three King's Bread
 
Prep time
Total time
 
A Mexican sweet bread flavored with almond extract, orange zest and decorated with craisins and zultanas. Celebrate el Dia de Los Reyes Magos or Three Kinds Day with this bread.
Author:
Recipe type: Bread, Sweet, Baked,Holiday
Cuisine: Mexican, Holiday,Baked
Ingredients
  • 350 g all purpose flour
  • 350 g whole wheat flour
  • 150 g light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 180 g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange zest (from one medium orange)
  • 50 ml juice from zested orange
  • 1 tsp almond extact
  • 4 lightly beaten medium eggs (egg weight between 53-63 gm)
  • 150 ml tepid whole fat milk
  • 1 pack (12g) instant dry yeast
Decoration
  • 1 lightly beaten egg for wash
  • craisins, to decorate and use as many as desired
  • golden raisins (sultanas), to decorate and use as many as desired
  • red and yellow food coloring
Serve
  • a cup of Mexican hot chocolate
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl cover the craisins and sultanas with warm water and set aside to soak. Meanwhile, melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly. Once cooled mix in orange juice and almond extra and set aside. In a large bowl mix all of the flour, salt, sugar and zest until well combined. In a separate small bowl mix the tepid milk and dry yeast, lightly beating to help it along. Make a well in center of bowl with flour, pour the milk-yeast mix, melted butter, and the 4 lightly beaten eggs. Mix and knead the dough until smooth. You may need extra flour depending on conditions in your kitchen. Cover the dough with clean kitchen cloth and allow to rise for one hour or until doubled in size. **I made two small breads, one baked right away and one frozen to baked another day. If you would like to do the same then cut full dough in half, allow one half to rise and freeze the other right away.**
  2. Preheat oven to 180c or 356f and prepare large baking sheet. Lightly punch dough down. Cut off a small piece to create the decorative braids. Then divide that small piece into two. Knead each small piece with a drop or two of red and yellow food coloring separately until color is blended well -use extra flour if needed. Between your balms work the dough into long thin strands -- you'll need 3 per braid. Braid the small dough pieces and set aside. Knead the large risen dough into a large oval shape, punch a whole through the center just like a doughnut. Continue until the dough is shaped like a large doughnut with a slight oval shape. Lightly brush the bread dough with egg wash. Drain the craisins and raisins, place the decorative braids on top like in the photos. Next use the craisins and raisins to decorate the bread. Use my pictures as a guide or be creative. Brush the fruit and decorative braids with egg wash then sprinkle with granulated sugar. Make sure the whole bread is coated.
  3. Bake for 20-35 the time will depend on the thickness the dough was as well as whether the whole dough or half was baked. After 20 minutes check the bread by inserting a knife into the center if clear it is finished baking. Make sure that the color is golden and that when tapped the bread sounds hollow. For the full recipe more baking time is needed, and if the fruits are begging to brown cover the bread to prevent burning and continue baking until finished. Allow to cool completely before serving. Serve with Mexican hot chocolate or your favorite hot chocolate.
Notes
Feel free to replace the craisins and raisins for candied fruit of your choice. It is important not to skip the soaking time to avoid burnt toppings. Additionally I used half all purpose and half whole wheat flour but feel free to use only all purpose if you like. It is important to use a scale for accurate weight measurements. The recipe makes one large bread, I cut the dough in half before rising and froze one half and baked the other.

Rosca de Reyes or Three King's Bread by Spicie Foodie (Sweet bread flavored with almond extract, orange zest and craisins)

While my rosca doesn’t look like the traditional ones in Mexico the bread does taste delicious! The strongest taste and smell is that of the orange zest. I only wished the almond extract  taste would have been stronger. Perhaps next time I’ll add more. The tart craisins compliment the sweet sultanas and orange perfectly. Of course a cup of strong and dark Mexican hot chocolate is a must as it brings the whole bread and celebration together.

Rosca de Reyes or Three King's Bread by Spicie Foodie (Sweet bread flavored with almond extract, orange zest and craisins)Enjoy and Feliz dia de los Reyes Magos!

*Healthy Eating Tips for a Healthier 2013*
- When eating healthier, or dieting, try to use whole grain flours as they are not only healthier but some also lighter in calories. As you can see here I’ve swapped out half of the white for whole wheat flour.
- To avoid “cheating” when dieting it is important not to deprive ourselves entirely of sweets. Instead treat yourself to a small piece and be mindful the rest of the day of the calories already consumed. Don’t make it an every day treat because then it isn’t a treat.
- Remember carbs are only bad in large quantities -so keep those serving sizes small.

 

P.S.
Mexican hot chocolate can be purchased here Ibarra Mexican Chocolate

 

Yummy Pics: A Food Blogger's Guide to Better Photos, Photography eBook by Spicie Foodie

 

in Baked,Holidays,Mexican

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Phong Hong January 4, 2013 at 11:32 AM

That’s a beautiful bread, Nancy! I learnt something new today. Carbs, I just love them. Sigh…..

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2 Spicie Foodie January 4, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Thanks Phong Hong:)

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3 Rosa January 4, 2013 at 12:46 PM

A gorgeous bread! I wish I could have a slice with my tea…

Cheers,

Rosa

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4 Spicie Foodie January 4, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Ah if only we were neighbors ;)

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5 Anusha January 4, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Nan! What a beautiful loaf that is…. i envy all those who got to devour it

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6 Spicie Foodie January 4, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Thank you Anusha!:)

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7 Trix January 4, 2013 at 5:29 PM

The same idea as the New Orleans King Cake! I am not Christian or anything else for that matter, but I am ALWAYS down for a holiday that involves good food! Lovely photos. And Happy New Year! xoxo

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8 Spicie Foodie January 4, 2013 at 6:34 PM

I’m not either Trix but like you if it involves food then I’m game. Thanks sweetie and Happy New Year!xoxo

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9 Gina January 4, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Love your Three Kings Bread. I’m off to the Mexican market in a few and while theirs are so cute, they don’t taste that great and gasp, there is a plastic baby Jesus inside, lol. I like what you adorned yours with, I don’t love the candied fruit either. Enjoy your bread, I’ll raise a cup of hot chocolate to you when I get mine done.
Gina

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10 Spicie Foodie January 4, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Gracias Gina! I want to go to the market with you. Haha, non-Mexicans are always surprised with with the baby Jesus. Thanks and salud!

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11 Alyssa (Everyday Maven) January 4, 2013 at 6:58 PM

I loved learning about this tradition – I had never heard of it before so thank you!

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12 Spicie Foodie January 4, 2013 at 7:00 PM

My pleasure Alyssa:)

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13 Laura (Tutti Dolci) January 4, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Gorgeous bread, Nancy! The flavors sound heavenly, I love using citrus zest in baking!

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14 Spicie Foodie January 4, 2013 at 7:42 PM

Thank you Laura! Me too it gives a great taste and smell.

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15 The Travelling Chopsticks January 4, 2013 at 8:05 PM

We just celebrated Rosca de Reyes today in the office – i got a little baby, so i’m bringing in Tamales in Feburary ;) Loved this post – and am bookmarking it, as I know when we leave D.F. I will want to recreate some of the great memories i have here – and what better way to do that then with food!

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16 Spicie Foodie January 4, 2013 at 11:12 PM

Oh how lucky for you Alex! Thanks and I hope you can enjoy the recipe some day.

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17 Faseela January 4, 2013 at 8:06 PM

yummy bread

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18 Spicie Foodie January 4, 2013 at 11:12 PM

Thanks!

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19 cakewhiz January 4, 2013 at 9:26 PM

this was a very sweet post filled with memories. it was nice to learn about a new holiday…i am all for celebrating special holidays, regardless of what religion they pertain to :)

your bread is so pretty…i like that you decorated it coz you know i have a weakness for ALL things decorated…lol

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20 Spicie Foodie January 4, 2013 at 11:13 PM

Specially when they involve food right? :) Thank you it’s a great compliment coming from you. xx

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21 yummychunklet January 4, 2013 at 10:35 PM

I love the colored braids!

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22 Spicie Foodie January 4, 2013 at 11:13 PM

Thanks :)

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23 Sandra January 4, 2013 at 11:19 PM

This would surely satisfy my carb cravings!

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24 Spicie Foodie January 4, 2013 at 11:40 PM

And sweet cravings too;)

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25 Magic of Spice January 5, 2013 at 2:41 AM

What a beautiful bread and lovely tradition! Childhood memories especially surrounding food are always the best!
I am done spamming you for the evening :) Hugs

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26 Spicie Foodie January 5, 2013 at 9:54 PM

I agree and it is nice to relive them now an then. Don’t be silly you aren’t spamming me. Have a great weekend!

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27 Eha January 5, 2013 at 3:09 AM

In the north of Europe ‘Three Kings Day’ on the 6th is a vey important holiday: that is the day one has to take down the annual Christmas Day and ceremonially pack away all the ornaments till next year. It is the day after which one must not wish anyone ‘Happy New Year’: that would bring bad luck to both parties. It is also the official end of the Christmas holidays: kind of sad for the kids, a bit of a relief for many parents methinsk :) !

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28 Spicie Foodie January 5, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Thanks Eha I didn’t know about the ‘Happy New Year’ thing -I’ll remember it now.

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29 Frank @Memorie di Angelina January 5, 2013 at 5:18 AM

Very much like the gallette des Roos in France. A coin or facade bean is placed in the gallette, and the one who gets the piece with it is the ‘King’ or ‘Queen’ for the day. In fact, we have friend coming tomorrow for la Befana (Italian Epiphany) and we play the game with whatever cake we’re having for dessert. As you say, it’s a fun tradition whether you believe or not.

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30 Spicie Foodie January 5, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Yes exactly Frank! I’ve heard of the Befana and they even sell the witch dolls here too. Thanks!

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31 Victoria of Flavors of the Sun January 5, 2013 at 5:19 AM

Oh, those lights in the photos? How do you manage it time after time? No wonder you wrote a book! Beautiful.

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32 Spicie Foodie January 5, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Hehe, thanks Victoria. :)

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33 Ala January 5, 2013 at 7:34 AM

What fun–I’d love to try making this for the 6th even though we don’t celebrate ;) diversity and all its accompanying occasions (+ food traditions) are so fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

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34 Spicie Foodie January 5, 2013 at 9:56 PM

I agree and hope you can give it a try. Thanks!

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35 Suzanne Perazzini January 5, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Italians also celebrate this holiday – it’s called Befana. Your recipe looks quite wonderful.

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36 Spicie Foodie January 5, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Thank you Suzanne!

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37 Joan Nova January 5, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Gorgeous photos. Love the bokeh. I’ve got to head back into Yummy Pics!!

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38 Spicie Foodie January 5, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Thank you Joan!

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39 Ramona January 5, 2013 at 8:25 PM

What a beautiful bread. I love the twinkling lights in the background of your photos. I am enjoying reading your photo ebook. Someday I hope to feel about my own photos the way I feel about your photos. :)

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40 Spicie Foodie January 5, 2013 at 9:58 PM

Thank you Ramno. I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the book. I know that day is right around the corner for you -you’re doing great!

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41 Stephanie Chavez January 6, 2013 at 7:08 AM

Spiciefoodie why have I not heard of you?! I am in love with your pictures. I was going through the google images looking for a Three Kings printable for my kids to color tomorrow and found your picture of Rosca de Reyes. So glad I cliked on it. Can’t wait to check out your photography tutorials. Your bread looks delicious and beautiful!

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42 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Thank you Stephanie and I hope you had a great Dia de Los Reyes Magos!

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43 Faith January 6, 2013 at 3:34 PM

What a stunning loaf, Nancy! I love the jeweled look it has. I enjoyed reading the traditions around this bread…it’s things like that, along with memories that make the holidays so special to me too. I hope your new year is off to a wonderful start, my sweet friend!

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44 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Thanks Faith and best wishes to you sweetie!

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45 john@kitchenriffs January 6, 2013 at 10:01 PM

Great info, fantastic recipe! I’m aware of this celebration, but have never done it myself. Definitely on my calendar for next year! Thanks.

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46 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Thanks John!

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47 Nami | Just One Cookbook January 8, 2013 at 6:49 AM

Absolutely beautiful light effect and I was mesmerized by your pictures between reading your post…. Thanks for teaching us history and your bread looks delicious!!

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48 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Thank you Nami!

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49 mjskit January 9, 2013 at 4:44 AM

It’s amazing how so many holidays is associated with food or vice versa. Thanks for the information on Three Wise Men Day and how your family and culture celebrate it. Very interesting. Your king bread looks absolutely delicious and the pictures – gorgeous! Love the holiday lights effect in the background!

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50 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Thank you MJ!

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51 Gloria Huerta January 5, 2014 at 5:23 PM

I am veganizing this recipe … and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I made a lot of substitutions! I will share pictures with you later. Blessings!

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52 Spicie Foodie January 5, 2014 at 6:25 PM

Hi Gloria! Oh, I’d love to see your veganized rosca and recipe. My brother-in-law is a vegan so I’m quite curious. Can’t wait!

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