Santa Claus may have gone back to the North Pole to rest, but it doesn’t mean the gift-giving (and receiving) is over — at least not for the thousands of children in Mexico anxiously awaiting“El Día de los Reyes” Celebration on Jan. 6th.
On the previous night to their arrival, thousands of little Mexican kids release a balloon which carries a letter to the sky, knowing that it will reach the three wise kings, others leave the letter in one of their shoes under the Christmas tree.
The next morning as they run to the Christmas tree they find toys or whichever presents the wise kings left them, this tradition preceded Jesus’ birth with perhaps the most notable being the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem. This new star appeared in the evening sky just prior to the arrival of Jesus. Three wise men or Magi as they were then known, whose names were Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, traveled a far distance to pay homage to the Christ child. They brought with them fine gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Three Kings Day remains an important holiday for the people of Mexico. In addition to the gift-giving aspect of the day there is also a culinary treat that is specific to the holiday. Known as ‘Rosca de Reyes’ (King’s Cake), this holiday dessert offers much in the way of symbolism. Shaped in the round to signify a king’s crown, this sweet bread holds a special surprise. Baked inside is a small plastic figurine representing the baby Jesus. Whoever finds this token is obligated to host an upcoming party for the occasion of ‘Dia de la Candelaria’ and buy tamales for everyone! (Candlemas Day) which occurs each year on February 2nd.
The reason why baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake, represents another aspect of the holiday. The reason Jesus is ‘hidden’ inside the bread is to symbolize how in life, the Christ child’s birth location also needed to remain secret, in order that his life be spared.
Bake this cake with your family and enjoy this sweet tradition
Mexican King’s Cake (La Rosca de Reyes)
1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water (105-115 degrees)
1/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2-2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons chopped mixed candied fruit (e.g. figs, oranges, cherries, citrons), plus extra for decoration
1 tablespoon chopped nuts or blanched almonds
1 tablespoon sugar
1 baby figurine
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1. Dissolve yeast in warm water.
2. Set aside for 5 minutes.
3. Heat milk, sugar, salt, and butter to warm (105-115 degrees).
4. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, yeast mixture, milk mixture, and egg.
5. Mix thoroughly.
6. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
7. Knead on lightly floured surface about 10 minutes.
8. Place in greased bowl, turning to coat top.
9. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double – about 1 hour.
10. Lightly knead in raisins, candied fruit, and nuts.
11. Place in greased bowl, turning to coat top.
12. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double – about 45 minutes. (This is for the second time.)
13. Punch down dough and insert the baby figurine.
14. Shape a round loaf; make a 4-inch hole in center and push dough into a ring (“rosca”) about 8 inches across.
15. Place on greased baking sheet.
16. Butter the outside of a 3 or 4-inch custard dish and set it in the hole.)
17. Let bread rise in warm place for 30 minutes.
18. Make either the glaze and brush on loaf
19. Press whole candied fruits and whole nuts on top
20. Sprinkle top with sugar.
Instead of the glaze, try this alternative:
3 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla
1. Mix all the icing ingredients together until fluffy and well blended.
2. Frost cooled loaves.
3. Decorate with different colored sugars or candied fruit.
If you do not want to make this cake yourself you can get it at any bakery or grocery store around you in Playa del Carmen such as: Wal mart, Mega, Chedraui, Sanborns, Tere Cazola and others.
We wish you a happy Three Kings day and we hope you celebrate it with Joy!