Rosca De Reyes

Rosca de Reyes is a Mexican Epiphany bread to celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings. I only bake it about once every five years when I remember (in advance) when 12th Night is and I still have ingredients left after the Christmas Bakes.

This is a formula I adapted from a yeasted recipe in Lourdes Nichols’ Mexican Cookery.

Melt the butter and add to the other liquid ingredients (milk, starter, eggs + yolks) in the mixing bowl.

Mix in the flour, sugar, fruit, almonds to form a dough. Scrape out and knead – 10 kneads, 5 minutes rest; repeat three times

Form the dough into a rough ball, place it in a lightly oiled container. Ferment for about four hours stretching each hour for the first three hours.

Dust a couronne basket with rye flour. Roll the dough out like a long baguette a little longer than the diameter of the basket, drape it inside the basket and press the two ends together.

Cover and prove for 4 hours (fermentation and proving at room temperature).

Preheat the oven to about 210C.

Cream the butter and sugar and work in the flour to form a small dough. Divide into 8 pieces and gently roll out into “worms”. Lightly whisk the egg white.

Turn the couronne out of the basket onto a baking sheet. Using sharp scissors make 8 equally-spaced deep cuts in the dough. Lay the “worms” across the dough between each of the cuts. Brush the dough with the egg white and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180C and bake for a further 25 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Mix the icing sugar and water. Now then, if you want to do the full Mexican, you need a small china doll (the niño) and a coin. Cut two wedges out of the loaf, insert the tokens and carefully replace the wedges, hiding the cuts with icing. Ice the rest of the loaf and decorate it with fruit and almond “jewels” before drizzling over the remainder of the icing.

The coin promises wealth but you don’t want to cop the niño or you have to throw a party on 02 February for everyone sharing the loaf.

This was baked in my newish Pico oven which has a stone sole, top and bottom heat and steam injection. I started baking with my regular bread settings, 250C top, 220C bottom, steam for just 10 minutes. At this point I reduced the temperatures to 220C top and 200C bottom and baked for a further 30 minutes.