Friday, 19 December 2014

Spanish Three Kings Cake: Roscón de Reyes

In Spain the night of 5 January is believed to be magic and exceptional, because during this night Three Kings come and bring the children (and not only) gifts - provided, of course, they were nice and well-behaved, if not, they will find coal under the Christmas tree (usually sugar or chocolate one)...

This night many cities in Spain organise Cabalgata de Reyes Magos, a traditional parade of kings. Gaspar, Melchor and Baltasar ride through the streets on camels and their page boys in specially prepared for the occasion and beautifully decorated coaches or trucks and they throw candies to children. It is also the right time to deliver the Three Kings a letter with a list of gifts they want to receive. When the night comes, just before going to bed, the children prepare hay and water for the camels, and milk, sweet wine, cookies or oranges for the kings. This is quite a restless night for the children, because very often they are so excited or even frightened by the fact that the kings on camels will come through the window of their house that its hard for them to fall asleep. The following morning they open the gifts that they have requested in the letter and then, for breakfast they have Roscón de Reyes, Three Kings Cake in the form of large ring, decorated with candied fruits and often with a layer of pastry cream, whipped cream or marzipan in the center. Roscones bought in pastry shops have a small surprises hidden inside. Generally it is a figure of one of the Three Kings and dry fava bean. Whoever finds the figure is crowned king or queen of the celebration and puts on his head a golden crown (paper crowns are normally sold with the cake), whereas whoever finds the bean should pay for the cake. 

Ingredients (for 1 large or 2 small breads):

the pre-ferment:

90 g bread flour
50 g milk
3 g fresh yeast

the dough:

the pre-ferment
340 g bread flour
80-120 g milk
2 eggs (110 g)
80 g sugar
15 g fresh yeast
5 g salt
60 g butter
15 g orange flower water
20 g rum (optional)
zest of half a lemon and half an orange
cinnamon stick

for garnish:

candied fruits
almonds, nuts
beaten egg yolk + 2 tablespoons milk

the marzipan (for one big or 2 small rings):

150 g almond flour
70 g icing sugar
1 egg white



Mix the almond flour with the icing sugar and the egg white. Use your hands to form it into a ball, then wrap it in cling film and chill in the fridge. 

the dough:

The day before, in the evening prepare the pre-ferment and flavor the milk. Dissolve the yeast in the milk and mix with the flour. Form a ball, leave it in a warm place for about 1 hour, then put the pre-ferment in a hermetically sealed container and leave it in the fridge. Pour the milk into a pot (about 150 g, because some evaporates when heated). Add lemon and orange zest and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for approx. 5 minutes. Leave to cool and then put in the fridge.

The next day, in the morning discard the citrus zests and cinnamon stick from the milk. Add the rum and orange flower water (in total there should be about 120 ml of liquid). Put the pre-ferment, flour, eggs, sugar, salt and the yeast (crashed between your fingers) in a bowl. Mix well, then add the milk mixed with rum and orange water - add it little by little until the dough becomes homogeneous and not too liquid (I added only 90 ml of liquid). Finally, add the butter cut in small pieces and mix well. Then knead the dough - with your hands or using a kitchen robot - until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. If the dough sticks to your hands too much, leave it for about 10 minutes, then knead it again. Put the dough in a bowl sprinkled with a little bit of flour, cover with a kitchen cloth and leave for about 2 hours or until the dough doubles in volume.

Put the dough on the counter and knead a little bit to degas it. Form it into a bowl or two and leave for about 15 minutes, so that the dough rested. Then it's time to form the rings (I've made one with marzipan in the center and the other just plain). For the plain one: put your fingers in the center of the ball and form a hole. Form the ring turning the dough around your hand.

For the ring with marzipan: roll the dough to form a rectangle and form a roller from the marzipan (I used only the half of marzipan mass). Wrap it in the dough and then seal the two ends to form a ring.

Place the rings on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, cover with a kitchen cloth and leave for about 1 hour.

Place the surprises inside the rings. Spread the tops with the egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk. Then garnish with almonds and candied fruits.

Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. 

The recipe is based on Ibán Yarza recipe from his book ''Pan Casero''.

Enjoy !!!

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