Today, January 6 is Three Kings Day, so I made Rosca de Reyes. It is the sweet celebration bread of the Epiphany, when the Three Wise Men (or Magi) traveled a great distance to honor the Christ child. Along their way they met King Herod and told him about the birth of the new king. He ordered them to find the baby and return to him with news of where the Messiah had been born. They found the baby and offered him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. As they were leaving Bethlehem, the three kings were warned by an angel that they should return home by another route because Herod intended to kill the baby.
The bread has a bean (or small doll) hidden inside it to symbolize the hiding of the baby Jesus from King Herod. The person who finds the bean in their piece is obligated to give a party on Candlemas Day (Feb.2). Here is my bean all ready to be wrapped up in dough along with the filling made of sugar and ground almonds and orange juice.
The dough rises with a greased bowl in the center to keep the shape. The recipe can be found in the book Celebration Breads by Betsy Oppenneer. This book has been an invaluable source of information and inspiration for me.
My daughters, two of my best lady friends and I ate up more than half of this very large loaf tonight as we knitted away the hours. But nobody has yet to find the hidden bean. I was hoping I would. Then I would have an excuse to have a party! We’ll see what happens when we finish up the bread tomorrow at breakfast.