Rosca De Pascua: Argentinian Ring Bread for Easter

Three Rosca de pascua of Easter ring bread cake on a table

 

Sol de Zuasnabar Brebbia/Getty Images 

  • Total: 4 hrs 45 mins
  • Prep: 4 hrs
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
409 Calories
23g Fat
43g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 409
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 12g 59%
Cholesterol 174mg 58%
Sodium 466mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 43g 16%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Protein 9g
Calcium 134mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Rosca de Pascua is a sweet brioche-like bread, shaped into a ring and decorated with pastry cream, nuts, fruits, and even chocolate eggs. In Argentina, this cake-like bread is popular on Easter Sunday; it is a close relative of many traditional European loaves of bread made during Easter as well as the New Orleans-style king cake traditionally enjoyed during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

You can start this dough in a bread machine to save time, and let it rise in the bread machine until you are ready to shape it (it will rise once more before baking). Normally this bread-like cake is decorated with pastry cream and cherries before it goes into the oven, but you could add some fresh pastry cream and the maraschino cherries (and other decorations) after it is baked.

Ingredients

  • For the Cake:
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg yolk (for egg wash)
  • For the Pastry Cream:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional decorations: maraschino cherries, slivered almonds, and/or chocolate eggs

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this Easter cake is broken down into workable categories to better plan for preparation and baking.

Make the Cake

  1. Gently heat the milk in a pan on the stove over low heat until just warm. Place the milk in the bowl of a standing mixer. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the yeast and let rest for 5 minutes.

  2. With the dough hook attachment, stir in the remaining sugar and the vanilla. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, until well mixed.

  3. Add half of the flour, the salt, and the lemon zest and mix well. Add the butter in small pieces, alternating with the remaining flour, and knead until it is all incorporated. Add extra flour if dough seems too wet.

  4. Knead until dough is smooth, shiny, and pulls away from sides of the bowl.

  5. Place dough in a greased bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. (Alternatively, place dough in the refrigerator to rise overnight).

Make the Pastry Cream

  1. Place the milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

  2. Place the egg and egg yolk in a medium heatproof bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the sugar and whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture becomes pale yellow.

  3. Sift in the flour, add a pinch of salt into the mixture, and whisk gently until incorporated.

  4. Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking, and stir until smooth.

  5. Transfer the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat, constantly whisking, until the mixture starts to thicken and turn glossy. Cook, stirring vigorously, for 2 to 3 minutes longer.

  6. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Let cool slightly and whisk in the vanilla.

  7. Chill the pastry cream in the refrigerator, covering the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming.

Shape and Bake the Cake

  1. Punch down risen dough and roll out on a floured surface into a rectangle, about 18 inches by 10 inches. Brush the surface of the dough lightly with water.

  2. Roll up the dough lengthwise, tightly, into a log. Roll the log with your hands to lengthen it. Connect the ends of the log to form a ring. Place the ring carefully onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

  3. Whisk the egg yolk briefly and brush over the surface of the dough. Let rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour or until almost doubled in volume.

  4. Preheat oven to 375 F.

  5. Place the pastry cream in a ziplock bag and snip one corner off of the bag; alternatively, use a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip. Pipe the pastry cream decoratively onto the top of the cake, reserving some pastry cream for later if desired. Add maraschino cherries and nuts to decorate (or add after baking if preferred).

  6. Place the bread ring in the oven, then lower the temperature to 350 F. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds slightly hollow when tapped gently for about 30 minutes.

  7. Let cake cool completely before serving. Decorate with more pastry cream, cherries, nuts, and chocolate eggs if you like.

Tips

  • If using a bread machine: Use bread machine yeast. Add the ingredients to the bread machine according to your individual machine's directions, and turn on the dough cycle. When the cycle is complete, remove dough and shape into a ring, or refrigerate dough until ready to use.
  • If you're concerned that the ring will shrink when forming your bread ring, place a buttered oven-proof bowl or metal ring in the center.