Rosca de Reyes is a sweet Holiday bread eaten all over the Spanish speaking world at Christmastime, especially at breakfast on January 6th, the Day of the Three Kings. The Spanish speaking world is wide and varied so this bread is, of course, made with many local tweaks and variations, but it is always round or oval like a crown. This recipe from Chef Naxielly Dominguez deliciously brings many of these versions together to make this yummy whole wheat Rosca. Traditionally there are several little ceramic ‘babies’ baked into the bread to represent the Christ child but to save a possible broken tooth (and, maybe, the Candlemass tamale party whoever gets one is supposed to throw!) she’s used pieces of dark chocolate instead. Although this bread is quite easy in technique, you’ll need to allow time for the dough to rise. If you’re planning to make it, I suggest starting the dough early so it can rise while you are doing other things. These could be cooking other elements of the Holiday meal, running errands or even Holiday present shopping! The results are worth waiting for! Enjoy!
- In a small bowl, combine yeast, lukewarm milk and 1 tablespoon of the sugar, stir to combine. Let stand until the mixture bubbles slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. (If the yeast doesn’t bubble, discard it and start again with new yeast).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (see Ann’s tips for hand kneading), add the yeast mixture, the remaining sugar, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, orange zest, orange blossom water, eggs, yolks, butter and knead with the hook attachment until you have a uniform and elastic dough, about 10 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured work surface for about 2 minutes until it forms a smooth ball. The dough should be smooth but still slightly sticky. Transfer dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place (about 70°F) until doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and press dough gently to form a 12 by 8 inch rectangle. With the long side of the rectangle facing you, lightly press in the chocolate pieces along it, evenly spaced, and about 1 inch from the edge. Fold this bottom third of the dough over towards the center, then fold the top third over it as you would a business letter. Fold the dough again, in half lengthwise, to form a thick log 12 inches long. Seal all the edges with the heel of your hand.
- Gradually stretch the log until it is about 3-inches thick. Bring the ends of dough together to form an oval ring. Stretch again until the oval is roughly 12 x 8 inches. Place seam-down onto the prepared baking sheet. Cover loosely with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, In a medium bowl combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar, butter and vanilla, mix well until well combined and form a dough. Divide streusel into 6 pieces and press each pieces of streusel to form a 4 by 2-inch wide strips. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and position a rack in the center of the oven.
- When the Rosca is ready, using a pastry brush, generously brush the surface with the beaten egg. Place each strip of streusel on top of the bread evenly spaced. Decorate in between with pieces of candied or dried fruits. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Let bread cool completely on a wire rack.
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (see Ann’s Tips)
½ cup lukewarm whole milk
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 large yolks
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 pieces of dark chocolate
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Glaze and Decorations (see Ann’s Tips)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 ounces candied orange strips
12 maraschino cherries
3 dried figs, soaked in warm water and cut into halves
Ann's Tips and Tricks
Dried yeast can come in packets of 7 to 8.5 grams. 7 grams is ¼ ounce. If you have the larger 8.5 gram packet, for this recipe take out a scant ½ teaspoon and use what’s left.
For hand kneading: Mix the rest of the sugar, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt on a work surface. Make a well in the center. Gradually pour the yeast mixture, orange zest, orange blossom water, eggs, yolks and butter into the well while mixing with your hand. Knead until you have a nice, uniform dough, about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth but still slightly sticky.
In Spain, they don’t decorate the Rosca with the streusel, just the egg glaze and dried and candied fruits, so if you want to miss this step, it’s OK. Whichever style of Rosca you choose to make, you can use any kind of preserved fruits to decorate it – dried figs, candied cherries, candied citron, candied orange peel, angelica – whatever takes your fancy.