Spanish Twelfth Night Bread (Roscon de Reyes)

Roscon de Reyes or Twelfth Night Bread.
Asimetrica Juniper / Getty Images
  • Total: 3 hrs 30 mins
  • Prep: 3 hrs
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
178 Calories
11g Fat
17g Carbs
3g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 178
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 7g 33%
Cholesterol 60mg 20%
Sodium 282mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 17g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 3g
Calcium 31mg 2%
*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.)

Roscon de Reyes is a traditional dessert, served the night before or the morning of Reyes or Epiphany on Jan. 6. Dia de Reyes or simply Reyes is the day when children in Spain receive gifts from the Reyes Magos–Wise Men or Magi—the three kings who brought baby Jesus gifts. Instead of gifts from Santa Claus, the children receive them from the Reyes Magos.

It is traditional to put several surprises inside the roscon. A porcelain figure of a baby wrapped in foil and a dry bean are hidden in the dough. Whoever finds the baby will have good luck and be the king of the party, but if you find the bean, you pay for the cake.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ounce active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm milk (mixed with 1/3 cup lukewarm water)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • Grated rind of 1 orange
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 large egg white (lightly beaten)
  • 2 cups candied fruit (assorted figs, oranges, lemons, mangos or cherries, chopped or left in large pieces)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Sift flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Make a hole in the center of the flour.

  3. In a small mixing bowl, stir and dissolve the dry yeast in the lukewarm milk mixed with the lukewarm water.

  4. Once dissolved, pour the dissolved yeast into the center of the flour. Stir in just enough flour from around the sides of the bowl to make a thick batter.

  5. With your hand, grab about a teaspoon of the flour from the side of the bowl and sprinkle it over the top of the batter.

  6. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place, away from any draft. Allow batter to turn spongy, about 15 minutes.

  7. In a medium-size mixing bowl, use a hand mixer or whisk to beat together the butter and sugar. The mixture should be smooth and creamy. Set aside.

  8. Add grated orange and lemon rinds, eggs, brandy and water to the bowl with the flour mixture. Mix well. The dough will be sticky.

  9. Beat flour mixture until it is elastic and smooth. Beat in the reserved butter-sugar mixture and mix until the dough is smooth. The dough should be formed into a ball, then covered with oiled plastic wrap.

  10. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave it again in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in size. This will take approximately 1 1/2 hours.

  11. While you are waiting for the dough to rise, grease a large baking sheet with vegetable shortening and set aside for later use. If you will use a baking stone, no need to grease it.

  12. Once the dough has doubled, remove the plastic wrap and punch down dough. Lightly flour a clean counter or cutting board and place dough on it.

  13. Knead for 2 to 3 minutes. Then, using a rolling pin, roll dough into a long rectangle, about 2 feet long and 5 to 6 inches wide.

  14. Roll the dough from the long side into a sausage shape.

  15. Carefully place the dough onto the large baking sheet or stone and connect the ends together, forming a ring. If you will hide a bean or a small ​foil-wrapped, ceramic figurine in the cake, now is the time to tuck it under the dough. Cover with oiled plastic wrap again. Leave in a warm place and allow to double in size. This will take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

  16. Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly beat the egg white in a small bowl. Uncover the dough and brush the top of the cake with the beaten egg white. Decorate the ring with the candied fruit pieces. Push them into the dough slightly so that they do not fall off.

  17. Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on a rack before serving.

In the last half of the 20th century, filling the roscon with whipped cream or a thick custard became popular. Today about a third of the roscones sold in Spain are filled. If you want to fill yours, use a bread knife to slice the bread in half horizontally and carefully remove the top. Next, squeeze in the whipped cream or filling you've chosen and carefully replace the top. Keep refrigerated until serving if filled with cream or custard.

Roscon or Rosca de Reyes in Mexico and Latin America

The tradition of eating a roscon spread to Latin America and is particularly popular in Mexico. Here is a recipe for the Mexican Rosca de Reyes.