The grocery stores in Mexico are still stocked for what looks like Christmas Fiestas. The real reason for all of the treats & decorations is Three Kings Day, January 6th. The bakeries are doing a brisk business with the colorful Three Kings Bread being served up & the smell of the sweet yeasty confections baking ~ truly wonderful. The Torreon HEB is advertising 1 kilo of Kings Day Bread. That is one giagantic bread! And the best influence I can think this might have over me is a few days more before I have to remove the few Christmas decorations I have out. A win, win!
Rosca is the name given to any ring-shaped bread or cookie. This sweet bread was once used by the priests to evangelize: a small doll, representing the Christ child, is baked right in the bread- "hidden", to symbolize the hiding of the infant from King Herod's troops on the day of Los Santos Inocentes, the Holy Innocents. This bread is traditionally served on the festive Three Kings Day, when the children receive their toys. Whoever gets the slice of rosca with the doll in it has to provide the tamales and atole for the next party, on Candlemas. This is much like the tradition of New Orleans King Cake with the baby inside that is served during Mardi Gras.
Rosca de Reyes
Three Kings Sweet Bread
For the dough:
8 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1.6 oz.(2 3/4 cakes) compressed yeast
For the decorative paste:
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 3/4 cups flour
Mix yeast cakes into 1/2 cup warm water (about 85º F.) Mix with all other dough ingredients & beat the batter well until smooth and elastic. On a large baking sheet, shape the dough into a ring, resembling a large wreath. Cover the ring with a clean cloth or tea towel & sit in a warm place for two hours.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350º F. If you'd like to hide the infant (or lima bean is a traditional substitute) in the cake, tuck a miniature plastic doll inside. After the rosca has risen, & before putting it in the oven, prepare the decorative paste by creaming the butter and sugar together, beating in the egg & mixing in the flour. Use this paste to decorate the sweet bread in the form of rays coming out from the center.
Bake until the rosca is golden brown. Decorate with candied fruit; in Mexico, candied cactus, called biznaga, is often used.