Three Kings Day Bread or Roscón de Reyes

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This is the Three Kings Day Bread or Roscón de Reyes a classic sweet bread eaten on January 6

Incorporate the Three Kings Day Bread or Roscón de Reyes to your baking season!

For us, the baking season continues as the Christmas Celebration is not over yet. January six marks the arrival of the Three Wise Men who bring gifts to Baby Jesus. That is why in Mexican households, we do not turn down the Christmas decorations but until after the Epiphany.

In my Mexican holiday traditions eating Three Kings Day Bread is a must. We all gather around the table, and the younger child in the family cuts the first piece of the Roscón de Reyes, followed by the adults.

Three Kings Bread for celebrating the Epiphany. It has candied fruits and almonds.

The lucky one that finds the little baby figurine inside the bread has to invite everyone for dinner on February second, the day of La Candelaria. This day is when Baby Jesus is officially presented to the community and gets dressed in baby clothes.

Three Kings Day Bread is a longstanding tradition inherited from Spain.

The Three Kings Day tradition is deeply rooted in Mexico and Puerto Rico. However, other countries who practice the Catholic faith observe this tradition too. This holiday part of the Spaniard legacy and has been practiced for centuries.

This day, Mexican families pray the rosary and socialize while eating the sweet bread with loved ones and friends too. The menu typically is tamales and Mexican hot chocolate or atole.

A slice of roscón de reyes to celebrate Three Kings day

What is the meaning of the Three Kings Day Bread?

The shape of the bread is round or oval and represents the infinite God’s love as it does not have a beginning nor an end.

In the old days, the baby figurine inside the bread was porcelain and represents Baby Jesus. Depending on the size of the Three Kings Day bread, it can include several baby figurines.

A small Roscón de Reyes has up to three figurines, which represent the trouble the three Wisemen encountered while following the star guiding them to Bethlehem. The story says that the star would flicker and disappear at times. Affecting the route for the Biblical Magi to arrive.

In Mexico, the tradition of the Three Kings Day or Epiphany started in the sixteenth century by the Catholic missionaries, whom on January six introduced the custom of gifting to the children on that day.

On January fifth, my family used to take me to a park called La Alameda Central, located in downtown Mexico City. There we would meet with the Three Kings and would seal the memory with a unique picture.

After that, we would hop into the car and drive around to mesmerize with the Christmas decorations and bright lights. Closing the magical evening at home with dinner and a slice of the Roscón de Reyes. Many families in Mexico City still follow this tradition.

Before bedtime, my mom would ask me to leave my shoes near the Christmas tree. And on the morning of January six, I would find presents left by the Biblical Magi. Along with candy and chocolates inside my shoes.

In Puerto Rico, children have the custom of leaving the night before Epiphany, a box with grass and their wishlist under their bed. Then the following day, on January six, they wake up to find toys and gifts at their bedside.

Making the Roscón de Reyes at home has a special significance too.

Usually, families buy the Roscón de Reyes at the bakery, but we have found that making it at home following the classic recipe is the way to go.

Commercial bread is good, but when we have the chance to make the bread at home makes the difference. Our recipe for the Three Kings Day bread has only high-quality ingredients. Below are tips to achieve the best dough for a classic Roscón de Reyes.

Tips for baking the Three Kings Day Bread at home.

  • The eggs and the butter have to be at room temperature.
  • Measure all the ingredients using a scale since cups sizes defer by country.
  • The recipe calls for unbleached all-purpose flour. Do not use another kind of flour.
  • Choose good quality instant yeast.
  • Knead as needed. Take a break and knead again.
  • The dough will be ready when forming enough bubbles and passing the elasticity test.
  • We recommend making the dough a day in advance, this will result in a softer bread.
  • The same recommendation goes for the craquelin. Make it a day in advance and let it sit inside the fridge before cutting. 
  • If you cannot find the plastic baby figurines, use whole almonds as a replacement.
  • Patience is your friend. Do not rush the process.

Breadmaking is an art. Making the classic Three Kings Day Bread preserves the tradition.

I invite you to keep the legacy by not modifying the recipe. Many bakeries now offer different options for marketing purposes. But the real Roscón de Reyes doesn’t have chocolate, fillings, or any other modern twists.

The bread is soft, has eggs, and it is sweet with the floral aroma of the orange blossom water. The only garnishes or decorations are the coverings on top, dried fruits, such as figs, cherries, quince and guava paste, orange peel, and citron.

Some European versions of the Three Kings Day Bread include dried fruit in the dough, sugar, and almond slices for decor.

For our Three Kings Day Bread recipe, we used homemade candied citron to replace the guava and quince paste as we couldn’t find any at the store. The rest of the ingredients are straight forward using the classic method.

Are you ready to bake the incredibly delicious Three Kings Day Bread or Roscón de Reyes?

Follow the step by step recipe details below for a successful outcome.

This is the Three Kings Day Bread or Roscón de Reyes a classic sweet bread eaten on January 6

Three Kings Day Bread

Chef Adriana Martin
Making the classic Three Kings Day Bread or Roscón de Reyes preserves the longstanding tradition that celebrates the Spaniard legacy and the Epiphany. In Mexico, the tradition of the Three Kings Day or Epiphany started in the sixteenth century by the Catholic missionaries. The recipe for making this classic sweet bread has all-purpose flour, eggs, butter, candied fruits, and includes several Baby Jesus figurines. We replaced the plastic figurines with almonds.
5 from 12 votes
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Desserts
Cuisine Mexican Cuisine
Servings 10 people
Calories 435 kcal

Equipment

  • Digital scale
  • Stand Mixer
  • Flour sifter
  • Plastic container with a sealing cover
  • Zester
  • Scrapper
  • Thermometer
  • Pastry brush
  • Baking sheet
  • A rolling pin
  • Bowls
  • Knife
  • A whisk

Ingredients
  

For the bread dough

  • 350 grams all-purpose flour approximately 2.5 cups
  • 2 yolks at room temperature
  • 90 grams unsalted butter at room temperature and cut into small pieces. Approximately 3/8 cups.
  • 80 grams sugar approximately 3/8 cups.
  • 6 grams salt approximately 1¼ teaspoons
  • 15 grams orange blossom water approximately 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon peel yellow lemon or Meyer lemon
  • 2 tablespoons orange peel valencia or cara cara orange
  • 3 almonds to replace the 3 plastic figurines

For the Yeast

  • 10 grams dry active yeast or 20 grams of fresh yeast at room temperature
  • 40 grams sugar approximately 1/3 cup
  • 190 grams warm milk 110F approximately 3/4 cup
  • 80 grams all-purpose flour 2/3 cup

For the coverings or craquelin

  • 56 grams unsalted butter at room temperature. Approximately ¼ cup
  • 71 grams + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour Approximately ½ cup
  • 63 grams confectioners sugar or light brown sugar Approximately ½ cup
  • 1 egg yolk at room temperature

For the decorations

  • 2 tablespoons almonds sliced
  • 4-6 green and red candied cherries
  • 2 tablespoons candied citron
  • 1 tablespoon tropical candied fruit
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar crystals

For the egg wash

  • 2 eggs whites beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk or water optional

Instructions
 

  • Start by proofing the yeast by combining the active dry yeast with the flour, the sugar, and the warm milk. Mix well, cover and let the yeast ferment for a few minutes. When it doubles and starts bubbling is ready. Stir the yeast again and let it rise. You will do this three times.
  • Add the proofed yeast to a bowl and mix with the egg yolks and the orange blossom water. You can do this by hand with a beater or using the stand mixer.
  • In another bowl sift the flour and combine with the salt and the sugar. Add this dry mixture one cup at a time to the wet yeast that has the egg yolks and the orange blossom water. I use the stand mixer and the kneading hook. But you can use a Danish dough whisk too.
  • This dough is dense, make sure to knead for at least fifteen minutes. And let it rest for another ten minutes before adding the orange and lemon peel and part the butter. Integrate those ingredients kneading again for another 10 minutes until the butter is completely integrated into the dough.
  • The kneading time could be up to 45 minutes. This kind of sweet bread dough requires enough kneading time for resulting in a smooth finish. Form a ball with the dough and place it inside a plastic container that previously has been covered with oil.
  • Cover and let the dough rest inside the fridge overnight. Another option is to allow the fermentation to happen at room temperature and cook the bread that same day. But we like to do slow fermentation for achieving a tender bread.
  • The following day, take the dough out of the container and knead for 10 minutes by hand. Add some flour to the kneading surface if necessary. Make another ball of dough, place it again inside the container and let it rise at room temperature.
  • To form the round shape make a hole in the middle of the dough ball and start extending it until forming a donut shape. Let it rest and continue making the hole bigger. You can use a round pan or a round medium size cookie cutter to maintain the hole in place. If you prefer an oval shape then make a log with the dough and form the oval shape that way.
  • Place the Three Kings Day bread on a baking sheet. Insert the plastic figurines or whole almonds in different places but do it from the bottom up. Make sure to hide them well. And let the bread double in size.
  • For the craquelin, use a bowl and cream the butter first using a mixer, add the egg yolk and beat. Then add the sugar, and beat again. Then add the flour and combine until getting a dough. Place inside the fridge for a few minutes before cutting. Make a cylinder with the dough and cut in pieces. Using the rolling pin extend each piece and set aside.
  • Brush the bread wreath with egg wash, add the craquelin in different places. Add sliced almonds and decorate with the candied citron, the tropical candied fruit, and the cherries. Finish with the sugar crystals.
  • Preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180C) thirty minutes before baking the bread. When ready bake.
  • Bake the Three Kings bread for approximately 30 minutes until golden brown. Lower the heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (175C) after the first seven minutes and keep monitoring the baking process.
  • When ready take the bread out of the oven and let it cool using a rack. Typically, bread is ready when reaching an internal temperature between 190 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Insert a thermometer in the thickest part to verify. 

Video

Notes

Tips for baking the Three Kings Day Bread at home.
  • The eggs and the butter have to be at room temperature.
  • Measure all the ingredients using a scale since cups sizes defer by country.
  • The recipe calls for unbleached all-purpose flour. Do not use another kind of flour.
  • Choose good quality instant yeast.
  • Knead as needed. Take a break and knead again. The more you knead the softer the bread will be. 
  • The dough will be ready when forming enough bubbles and passing the elasticity test.
  • We recommend making the dough a day in advance, this will result in a softer bread.
  • The same recommendation goes for the craquelin. Make it a day in advance and let it sit inside the fridge before cutting. 
  • If you cannot find the plastic baby figurines, use whole almonds as a replacement.
  • Patience is your friend. Do not rush the process.
  • Typically, the dough is ready when reaching an internal temperature between 190 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Insert a thermometer in the thickest part to verify.

Nutrition

Calories: 435kcalCarbohydrates: 66gProtein: 8gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 260mgPotassium: 116mgFiber: 2gSugar: 26gVitamin A: 479IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 47mgIron: 3mg
Keyword bread, sweet bread
Tried this recipe?Mention @adrianasbestrecipes or tag #abrecipes on Instagram

Have you tried this recipe? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram and or Facebook using the handle @adrianasbestrecipes and this hashtag  #ABRecipes Happy Eats!

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21 Comments
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Peachy

5 stars
I didn’t know there’s a Three Kings Day Bread. It looks delicous!

Brian

5 stars
Looks good, but this seems like the type of recipe that it would take me at least a few tries to get it right. Happy New Year!

Susan Cooper

5 stars
It’s fascinating to learn about other traditions and this bread looks so pretty and bejewelled

Kez

It’s so interesting to find out about these traditions and learn how to make traditional food at the same time. that bread almost looks too good to eat though!

Ruth I

I like how this looks because it’s multicolored also. Seems it’s easy to prepare and sure will be a crowd favorite. This is gonna be absolutely delicious.

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