January 10, 2007

Three Kings Day

Posted by: Melissa Todd

Hey, I’m Melissa and I work in the Education Division at the Burke. I help develop and run cultural education programs.

In the spirit of our recently closed exhibit, Celebration of Souls, I was reading about another Mexican holiday called El Dia de Reyes, or Three Kings Day. Apparently this tradition came to Mexico from Europe, and is celebrated in many countries in Europe and Latin America. This is the last day of the 12 days of Christmas, when the three kings appeared in the Christmas story. On this day in Mexico (January 6), children traditionally receive gifts from the three kings, and families and friends get together and eat a traditional cake called Rosca de Reyes, ring or wreath cake.

Rosca de Reyes is a sweet bread filled with nuts and dried fruits. It has a special tradition attached to it. A small figurine or bean is baked into the cake, and whoever receives it in their slice must host the Dia de la Candelaria or Candlemas Day party! At this party they must serve guests tamales and atole, a hot drink thickened with cornstarch. Dia de la Candelaria happens on February 2.

Here is an untested recipe for Rosca de Reyes that I found online (at this site)—let me know if it tastes good or if you get the bean!

Buen Provecho!

•1/3 cup warm water
•1 packet of yeast
•4 cups flour
•1 cup sugar
•8 eggs, beaten
•3/4 cup butter, room temperature

•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
•1/2 teaspoon anise seed
•4 teaspoons vanilla extract
•A bean

•Candied Fruit (about 2 cups of assorted fruit cut into strips such as figs, orange, lemon, mango or cherries)—or you can just use raisins!
•1 egg beaten (egg wash)
•1/3 cup sugar

1.Sprinkle the yeast on the surface of the water and let it sit for 10 minutes.
2.In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast water, flour, sugar, eggs, butter, salt, cinnamon, anise seed and vanilla extract.
3.Mix until dough forms. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, then cover and let rise in a warm area until dough is doubled in size, about 2 hours.
4.Punch dough down and shape into a wreath. You can do this by simply rolling it into a log shape then bending the ends around to form a circle, or you can make three thinner strips and braid them, then put the ends together. The wreath should be about 12-14 inches in diameter.
5.Lift up one area and insert the bean by pushing it up through the bottom. Smooth out any lumps or tears.
6.Add the dried fruit by laying it across the top and pressing it in slightly. Let it rise until doubled. Brush top with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and bake for approximately 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

- Melissa