This Rosca de Reyes Recipe is a special bread that is made to celebrate when the three kings brought Jesus his gifts when he was born. This is why this bread is translated to King's rings, and made to look like their bejeweled crowns.
On January 6th, the three wise men brought gifts to Jesus when he was born. Celebrating Reyes Magos is popular in most Hispanic countries. In Mexico, they make Rosca de Reyes and drink hot chocolate. Inside every Rosca is a plastic doll that represent baby Jesus. Whoever finds it has to cook tamales on February 2nd that year.
- What is a Rosca de Reyes?
- What is the tradition of Rosca de Reyes?
- Why you will love this recipe
- Rosca de Reyes Recipe Ingredients
- How to make Rosca de Reyes
- Rosca de Reyes Recipe Variations
- How to store your Rosca de Reyes
- Rosca de Reyes Recipe Tips
- Rosca de Reyes Recipe (Three Kings Bread)
- Food safety
What is a Rosca de Reyes?
Rosca de Reyes is a bun made with a sweet dough in the shape of a wreath decorated with slices of candied or crystallized fruit of various colors. Inside the Rosca is a hidden plastic or ceramic baby figurine.
What is the tradition of Rosca de Reyes?
The tale of the Rosca de Reyes dates back to the journey of Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar, three wise men who traveled to Jerusalem from the East guided by a star to honor the King of the Jews with gifts. Upon learning of this, King Herod had all the babies killed, but was unsuccessful to find Jesus. The tiny doll hidden in the cake represents Jesus in hiding and the candied fruit represent the gifts that the kings brought: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Gold represents kinship. Frankincense represented deity, and myrrh is a symbol of death.
Why you will love this recipe
Full of flavor: The combination of the buttery and citrusy bread with the sugar and the candied fruits gives this rosca such an amazing taste.
Kid Friendly: Not only is the bun so delicious, but I loved finding the baby Jesus in a rosca because it was so fun.
Great for cold Weather: This dessert is traditionally enjoyed when during the holidays when it is cold out.
Serves a crowd: This rosca feeds about 8-10 people, but feel free to double it if you are having a big party.
Rosca de Reyes Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Active dry yeast
- Granulated sugar
- Orange Blossom Water
- Powdered sugar
- Candied fruit
- Plastic figurine
See recipe card for quantities for this Rosca de Reyes Recipe.
How to make Rosca de Reyes
Make the starter: Pour 4 tablespoons lukewarm water into a bowl. Add the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let this stand for about 10-15 minutes.
Put the flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl and mix well. Add the yeast mixture and eggs and mix into a rough dough. Cover and rest for 2 hours.
Make the dough: To make the dough, put the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt and stir. Add the starter dough, eggs, orange blossom water, both zests, and mix the dough together with your hands. Knead for 10 minutes. Add the butter and keep kneading for another 10 minutes until the butter is completely incorporated into the dough. The dough needs to be shiny and elastic. Alternatively, you could use the Kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook attachment to knead this dough until elastic and it’s not sticky, about 10 minutes.
Let the dough rise: Place the dough back into the bowl and cover in cling wrap. Let it rise until doubled in size. Make sure to place someplace warm in your house so it can rise quickly.
Form the Rosca: Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a roll, about 2 inches in diameter. Join the ends of each roll to create a wreath, sealing them with a beaten egg. (If you happen to have the baby figure, it’s great to hide right where these connect). Put a wreath on each baking sheet, cover with cling wrap, and let it stand for 45 minutes.
Make the topping: Meanwhile, combine all the topping ingredients in a bowl or stand mixer and mix until it becomes a paste. Cover this with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Bake the Rosca: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Brush both wreaths with a beaten egg. Remove the paste from the fridge and divide it into 8 long strips. On a lightly floured surface, use a strip to cover the seam and then evenly space the remaining strips around the wreath. Cover the strips with the the beaten egg and sprinkle them with sugar. Decorate the rest of the wreath with the sugar and candied fruit. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes or so if the Rosca is getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil. Remove from the oven and once cooled, serve.
Hint: Make sure to read the instructions completely before starting.
Active dry yeast: You can use active dry yeast or fresh yeast. If using fresh yeast, jut make sure to double the amount.
Sugar: You will need both granulated sugar and powdered sugar. For the granulated sugar, you could brown, raw or caster sugar.
Flour: I used all-purpose flour but this is traditionally made with wheat flour.
Butter: Butter gives this rosca such a delicious taste. You could use margarine or shortening instead.
Orange blossom water: This one is a bit difficult to find. If you aren't able to find it, you could jut use more orange zest or use orange bitters instead. You can find this orange blossom water on amazon too.
Rosca de Reyes Recipe Variations
Cooking is a chance to be creative! Have fun with it and feel free to make your own variation.
- Deluxe - If you don’t find the traditional decorations, use prunes, walnuts, pecans, or fruit cake mix.
- You can also make the topping with mazapan candy.
- Kid friendly - Make this with your children but tell them to turn away when you hide the plastic doll inside it!
- This Rosca de Reyes is typically enjoyed with Mexican Hot Chocolate or Champurrado.
- If you love this recipe, feel free to try my Mexican Croissant Pan Dulce Recipe.
Equipment can have a big impact on how a recipe turns out. Stone bakeware takes longer to heat up than metal pans, and also retain heat for longer, which could make the recipe more watery, or burnt on the outsides.
Using a Kitchenaid mixer or any stand mixer will definitely make your life much easier.
How to store your Rosca de Reyes
This will be good in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
These ingredients don't stand up well to freezing.
Rosca de Reyes Recipe Tips
Use a kitchen scale for best results to measure ingredients in grams.
Read all the instructions completely before starting.
Ingredients must be room temperature before baking.
Make sure the oven is completely preheated before adding the Rosca.
Make sure to add the starter in a warm place so that it can rise.Print
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove