Rosca de Reyes

3 Jan

Rosca de Reyes, or the “Kings Bread” is a wonderful tradition I have inherited from my wife’s family.  In Mexico, they do not celebrate Christmas the same way that we Gringos are accustomed. They do not have a Santa Claus and 8 tiny reindeer, or stockings and Black Friday. The children usually receive gifts from Los Reyes, the three Magi that followed the stars and travelled to receive Jesus in Bethlehem.  As the Three Kings arrived bearing gifts to Jesus, so too do the children receive gifts from the wise men on January 6th, the Día de Los Reyes.  As with most holidays in Mexico, there is also a traditional food associated with the day, and the Rosca is the food for Día de Los Reyes.  A Rosca is a wonderful sweet bread in the shape of a ring  that is usually baked with a porcelain or plastic baby Jesus inside. They say that the baby Jesus baked into the bread symbolizes the birth of Jesus in hiding from Herod the puppet King of Israel, but to me it is also means that I have to make tamales should my piece have the Baby Jesus inside it!

Living way up here in the Great White North of Maine, there is no place to buy a traditional Rosca, so as with most foods Mexican, I have to make it myself. I searched and searched for a recipe that would be equal to the Rosca that my mother-in-law would bring from La Panaderia Huesteca in Mexico City, which would be filled with cream cheese and walnuts and topped with citron peel, limon, and biznaga (candied cactus).  But not being very successful in finding a similar recipe, I settled on one from the legendary Diana Kennedy, I also used ALL organic ingredients (including the dried fruits), kosher salt, spring water, and added orange zest, walnuts, and golden raisins to the dough.  One important note is to make sure that ALL ingredients are at room temperature.  I learned this the hard way, when my first attempt failed to rise due to the yeast not activating correctly!

What came from this recipe was a delicious bread that can be served with Atole, Chocolate Abuelita, coffee, or just a simple glass of milk on Día de Los Reyes, so enjoy!

Rosca de Reyes

Fresh from the Oven!

Rosca de Reyes

(From The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy)

The Sponge:

  • 450 g unbleached organic bread flour
  • 15 g salt
  • 60 g organic sugar
  • 10 g yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • 145 g water

The Dough:

  • The Sponge.
  • 450 g unbleached organic bread flour
  • 60 g water
  • 8 egg yolks
  • Zest of one orange
  • 225 g organic sugar
  • 200 g organic unsalted butter, softened
  • 110 g Golden Raisins
  • 100 g chopped walnuts

For the Top of the Rosca:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • melted butter (organic of course!)
  • organic sugar
  • Dried or candied fruits (I used dried Kiwi, Mango, Papaya, Fig but I first soaked them in hot water for 10 minutes and drained them before placing on top. This helps prevent them from burning during baking.)


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine all of the sponge ingredients. Mix for about 10-12 minutes.
  2. Remove the dough hook, cover the mixing bowl, and allow the sponge to ferment until doubled, about 2 hours.
  3. With your sponge already in the mixing bowl add the dough flour, egg yolks, water, orange zest, and the sugar. Mix with the dough hook on low speed until combined, about 4 minutes.
  4. Continue mixing for an additional 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add the butter and mix at low speed for a minute or two, then at medium speed until the butter is fully incorporated into the dough.
  6. Turn the mixer back to low speed and add the raisins and the walnuts and mix until they are just incorporated.
  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and ferment for 2 hours at room temperature.
  8. Turn the dough into a lightly floured counter. Divide it in two pieces and shape each piece into a tight ball and let rest, covered, for 20 minutes.
  9. Take two pieces of parchment paper and place a ball of dough on each sheet.
  10. For each loaf, make a hole in the center of the ball, and with floured hands, gently stretch the dough into a ring shape and lift the ring using the parchment paper and place on two baking sheets.
  11. Proof, covered, for about 3 hours, until almost doubled.
  12. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F.
  13. Before baking, decorate the top with fruit and brush the dough and fruit with the egg yolk.


    Ready for the oven!

  14. Bake for 15 minutes, until browned. Remove the loaf from oven, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar, and return to the oven for another 6 minutes. The internal temperature should be at least 190F.
  15. Cool on a wire rack.


    Cooling on the rack

8 Responses to “Rosca de Reyes”

  1. mullenskitchen January 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Nice Recipe

    • cjdelgrosso January 3, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

      Thanks! I wish I could take credit for it myself, but that honor goes to Diana Kennedy! I pretty much just baked it!

  2. Kiri W. January 4, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    Wow, I have never had anything like this, but it looks and sounds like a delicious treat 🙂

    • cjdelgrosso January 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

      Thank you! It was delicious. Not quite as good as some I have had in Mexico City, but delicious nonetheless!

  3. Ruth January 5, 2012 at 4:13 am #

    Great recipe! I will try to make it on Saturday! In Argentina, we celebrate Christmas with Santa Claus (Papa Noel) and on the 6th Kings Day (Reyes Magos) so we get double the gifts, although the bigger ones come on the 6th because the magi can carry more, lol!

    • cjdelgrosso January 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      Thank you! You live in Argentina? That is one of my all time favorite food destinations! I hope it turns out well!

  4. Ruth January 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Not sure if you got my previous comment but I’ll try to make it on Friday to celebrate Dia de Reyes, I was losing the tradition but now you made it appear again, thanks! Can’t wait to try this!

    • cjdelgrosso January 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      Yes, it did get posted, I have the blog set to moderate comments, so if you are a first time commenter, I need to approve the comment! Let me know how the recipe worked for you! You can even send me pics if you want to

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