Dia de los Reyes, Three Kings day or Epiphany is the finale to the Christmas season. January 6th is a feast day for many European and Latin American cultures. My mother hung on to her Mexican culture heavily during our childhood but strangely we did not celebrate Dia de Los Reyes. As far as I was concerned it was only another day to attend mass. She did explain the significance of it but that was the full extent of celebrating Kings day.
The main factor for embracing my Mexican roots of late is I miss my family terribly and now that I have 6 kids I want them to know who and where I came from. It has heavily influenced my baking in the last year or two. I want to re-create certain tastes and smells but also investigate ones I would of missed out on by growing up in an immigrant family trying to integrate to their new environment.
“Rosca de Reyes” or Three Kings Bread is a ring shaped bread adorned with colourful candied fruit and sugary topping. Inside is hidden a plastic figurine of baby Jesus. The tradition is who ever finds the figurine in the bread becomes the guardian who will take care of them until February 2nd and then treat those who they shared the bread with to a traditional fiesta usually with tamales.
I first tried making the Rosca de Reyes over 10 years ago when I first started baking and although it looked great it taste rubbery due to my inexperience working with bread . This is my 3rd attempt and I am fairly pleased. I also feel I could do it better next time.
In my usual fashion I researched loads of traditional recipes until I found one that I really felt I could work with. It is a fusion of a couple of recipes (Fany Gerson’s from My Sweet Mexico http://www.mysweetmexico.com and Mexico in my Kitchen http://www.mexicoinmykitchen.com). Next time I would change a couple of things such as not using bread flour and using plain flour. I felt the bread or strong flour caused a crack on top and I would add anise seeds to my dough for added flavour. I sprinkled a cinnamon-sugar topping which worked great. I went all out with the candied fruit. I found some beautiful South African ones in Fallon and Byrne http://www.fallonandbyrne.com (gourmet food hall in Dublin) which made it an expensive treat but it is a celebratory bread.
¡Feliz Dia de Los Reyes!