Every year I get on the campaign trail, no I am not running for public office…yet! Instead I try to get my family WHOLE family to downgrade their Christmas celebrations in favor of the fun, traditional and insanely more affordable, Día De Los Reyes Magos, or Three Kings Day. And every year I get SOME family members to jump on the bandwagon.
Three Kings Day, or Epiphany, is celebrated 12 days after Christmas (the end of the 12 days of Christmas), this year it is on January 6th and marks when the three wise men, Gaspar, Balthasar & Melchior (great Biblical trivia to know) came on camels to bring baby Jesus gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold. Three Kings Day is celebrated all over the world, but in Latin America it was a bigger holiday than even Christmas! Unfortunately because of all the hype around Christmas more and more families are adopting December 25th and turning their backs on the wise men. I say, lets bring back the Kings!
For one reason, the way that the holiday is celebrated is so traditional, quaint and charming and all about QUALITY time with one another versus QUANTITY. Children leave food (grass and corn) and water for the camels, who are hungry and thirsty from their long trip across the desert, and in exchange the kings leave them gifts, hopefully not just frankincense, myrrh. But in this day and age, one of the best reasons to celebrate Three Kings Day is the tremendous sales there are after Christmas that Three Kings Day celebrants get to take advantage of, and I am all about the cheap and cheerful holiday!
After a family dinner, which we will be having this evening, we traditionally would make a sweet bread ring, called Rosca De Reyes (or Roscon De Reyes) and baked INSIDE of the bread is a little figurine of the baby Jesus.
Then the ring is cut and everyone gets a slice. Getting the baby Jesus figurine is bitter sweet, because not only do you receive blessings, but it also means that you are responsible for hosting a shin dig on February 2nd for Candlemas Day (Día de la Candelaria)! Who doesn’t love a party?
Here is a wonderful recipe for Rosca De Reyes, serve it with coffee or hot chocolate and leftover slices are delicious toasted and served for breakfast! I have even made french toast from the leftover Rosca and it’s delicious!!!!
On the 12th day of Christmas, January 6, celebrate 3 Kings Day with a delicious Rosca, a sweet bread with a little plastic baby baked into it. The person who gets the baby is sure to have good luck—or will be the one to host next year’s 3 Kings Day celebration.
2 (0.25 oz) packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup butter, melted
5 egg yolks
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons milk
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm milk, and let sit for 10 minutes—until it’s creamy.
While waiting for the yeast, grate the lemon zest making sure to just use the yellow part of the skin.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, nutmeg and lemon zest.
Melt the butter and let it cool a little; it should still be a liquid, but not piping hot. Mix into the yeast bowl. Add egg yolks. Mix to combine. Add the flour mixture one cup at a time.
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Once all the flour mixture is added, combine so the dough no longer sticks to the bowl.
Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth—about 8 minutes. Make dough into a ball.
Put a couple tablespoons oil into a large bowl and roll the dough ball into it until it’s covered; this keeps the dough from drying out.
Place the bowl in a warm place with a damp cloth covering it until the dough doubles in size. This takes about two hours.
About a half hour before the dough is done rising, mix the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar to make the filling. Once the dough has risen, roll it out in a long strip 6″ wide by 30″. Spread the filling from edge to edge.
Make the dough into a tube by pinching the sides together. Tuck the plastic baby into the dough.
Join the ends of the dough to make a ring. Place on a greased and floured baking sheet, seam side down, and place a greased and floured coffee can in the center to keep it’s shape.
Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size—about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Bake for 30 minutes—until golden brown.
Let the bread cool completely. Mix the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and milk until smooth. Pour over the bread and let it dry.