Rosca de Reyes Recipe + Video

Rosca de Reyes is a sweet and soft bread traditionally prepared to celebrate the Epiphany in Mexico. Learn how to easily make it with our step-by-step recipe and VIDEO.

Rosca de Reyes.

What is Rosca de Reyes and its significance?

Rosca de Reyes is a ring-shaped sweet bread made to celebrate the Epiphany in Mexico. The tradition made its way from Spain to Mexico and Latin America, where according to the Christian faith, on January 6 the Three Wise Men (Reyes) arrived with gifts for baby Jesus.

This sweet bread is traditionally shared among families, neighbors, friends, and pretty much everyone near to you. Inside the bread is customary to place some plastic figures that represent baby Jesus.

When one of those figures is found, the person who did it must host a gathering on February 2nd, Dia de Candelaria (Candle mass day), and provide tamales and atole for the guests.

The shape of the bread represents the love from God, the fruit decorations resemble the jewels of the Wise Men’s crowns and are also supposed to be distractions to protect baby Jesus from the danger of being discovered. Last, the knife to cut the cake could be Herod the Great trying to reach Jesus.

Rosca de reyes in a table.

The Mexican tradition

In my country, celebrating this holiday is sometimes even a bigger event than Christmas. Especially for families in the southern and central states where other local traditions have blended into this celebration.

Making Rosca de Reyes at home is something many families still do, while others prefer to buy it at the local bakery. As a kid, I remember anxiously waiting for this day to receive a gift from Los Reyes Magos. A day filled with joy and magic that left me so many beautiful memories with my family.

The name

The word Rosca means wreath in English, and Reyes means kings, so the easy translation of Rosca de Reyes would be “King’s Wreath”.

The Texture & Flavor

The bread has a soft and spongy texture inside, pretty much similar to Pan de Muerto or Conchas. The top covering is made with sugar, butter, and flour, which adds a crumbly and delicious texture to every bite.

Last, the decorations are made with candied fruit, adding an extra soft and gummy texture to the bread.

The flavor is delicate with some citrus hints. Since the traditional recipe is made with orange and/or lemon zest, the aroma also has a fresh touch that doesn’t disappoint.

Homemade three kings bread.

The variations

  • Covering: Sometimes the covering is made with mazapan.
  • Fillings: Modern recipes includes fillings with chocolate or Nutella, Cajeta de celaya, and even ricotta cheese.
  • Decorations: Besides candied fruit, in some recipes various types of nuts are added.

Before Starting

  • Read the recipe at least twice to fully understand it.
  • Check up the video-
  • Make sure all your ingredients are not cold. Milk should be lukewarm, eggs at room temperature, and butter should be softened.
  • Gather all your utensils and declutter your working space.
  • Can’t stress enough but, using a Kitchen scale will assure better results.

The Step By Step Recipe

  1. Place 2 tablespoons of flour, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a medium bowl.
  2. Add 1/2 cup lukewarm milk and mix until you will have a runny dough.
  3. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.
  4. After the resting time, the mixture should have a spongy texture with lots of bubbles and have doubled in size.
  5. Now, place the remaining flour, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer bowl with the hook attached.
  6. Mix to combine. Add the yeast mixture and set the mixer to low.
  7. Start mixing while adding one by one the eggs and yolks until everything is combined.
  8. Next, add the softened butter, vanilla extract, and orange zest.
  9. Mix at medium-low speed for 3 minutes until a sticky dough forms.
  10. Set the mixer to medium-high speed and knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough is soft, elastic, and doesn’t stick to the bowl.
Rosca dough just made.

If you are familiar with the windowpane test, make sure your dough is at that point. Watch this amazing video showing how to do the windowpane test.

Proof

  1. Now that your dough is ready, it’s time to leave it to proof. So, transfer the dough to a floured surface and form a ball.
  2. Then, generously butter a large bowl (you stand mixer bowl is fine) and place the dough inside.
  3. Cover with cling film and allow to rest from 2 to 3 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen. Read more below for proofing tips.
  4. After the resting time, the dough should have doubled in size.

Shape the rosca

  • Transfer the dough onto a floured surface. Gently knead it for a couple of seconds to knock out the air bubbles.
  • Now, lightly flour your hands and make a long rope about 3-inch thick.
  • Transfer the rope to a parchment-lined cookie sheet and form a ring by connecting the endings to each other.
  • Finish shaping the rosca with your hands.
  • Loosely cover with cling film and allow to proof for about 1 hour in a warm place.
  • This is the dough after resting for an hour in a warm environment.
A collage with 3 pictures for shaping rosca de reyes.

Make the covering

  • While the dough is proofing, let’s make the sugar covering. So, place the butter, the flour, the egg yolk, and the powdered sugar in a bowl.
  • Work the ingredients with a fork to combine them, then use your hands to knead and form a smooth sugar paste dough.
  • Now, flour a working surface place the sugar paste then roll it into a rectangle.
  • Using a spatula, divide it into 8 narrow rectangles. Check the video.

NOTE: Make sure you start preheating your oven anywhere at this point. Depending on the type of oven you use, this can take from 20 to 30 minutes. – 375°F/190°C, with the rack in the lower third.

Decore

Make the egg wash by whisking the egg and milk together, then brush the rosca with it.

Place first the sugar paste rectangles. Then, add the candied fruits in the spaces between the sugar paste decorations.

*Please read the “troubleshooting section” below before starting decorating.

Bake

Pop into the preheated oven (375°F/190°C) and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Lasts steps

Remove Rosca de Reyes from the oven and place the baking tray on a countertop. Let it cool for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely.

If you place plastic figurines into the bread, do it after the bread has cooled down, inserting the pieces from the bottom.

Troubleshooting

  • If you using ate de guayaba or membrillo chances are that will melt a bit when baking. To avoid this, place them only once the rosca is baked and before cooled. You can use a little bit or marmalade to help the pieces stick to the bread.
  • If the sugar paste gets too smooth after made, making impossible to roll, place it for a couple of minutes in the freezer to make it firmer.

How To Eat

Rosca de Reyes is traditionally eaten with Mexican hot chocolate, which makes the perfect drink to complement this bread. Dipping a slice of this sweet bread into a sweet, and aromatic chocolate caliente is one of those pleasures you should try at least once.

Other hot beverages that pair well are café de olla, corn atole, and champurrado.

How to store

Wrap tightly your rosca de reyes leftovers with cling film or place them into an airtight container and leave them on the countertop for up to 4 days. Or place in a zip bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Gift it

If you want to gift this Rosca de Reyes to someone, you can place it in a cake box or bag. Or you can use a cellophane bag and tie it with a baker’s twine. Add a nice sticker and you’ll have a wonderful homemade gift.

Rosca de Reyes Recipe.

Rosca de Reyes Recipe

author Maricruz
Learn how to make traditional pan dulce "Rosca de Reyes" to celebrate the Epiphany.
prep 25 minutes
cook 25 minutes
Resting time 3 hours 20 minutes
total 4 hours 10 minutes
serving 14 servings

Ingredients 

For the poolish

  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup milk (lukewarm)

For the dough

  • 3 ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • cup butter (softened)
  • cup sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • zest 1 orange
  • ½ tsp salt

For the decoration

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lard (or replace with butter)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • candied fruit (orange, figs, cherries, etc.)

Instructions
 

Make the poolish

  • Place flour, yeast, and sugar in a medium bowl.
  • Add the milk and mix until you will have a runny dough.
  • Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave it to rest for 20 minutes.

Make the dough

  • Place the remaining flour, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer bowl with the hook attached.
  • Mix to combine. Add the yeast mixture (poolish) and set the mixer to low speed.
  • Start mixing while adding one by one the eggs and yolks until everything is combined.
  • Add the softened butter, vanilla extract, and orange zest.
  • Mix at medium-low speed for 3 minutes until a sticky dough forms.
  • Set the mixer to medium-high speed and knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough is soft, elastic, and doesn’t stick to the bowl.

Proof

  • Transfer the dough to a floured surface and form a ball.
  • Generously butter a large bowl (you stand mixer bowl is fine) and place the dough inside.
  • Cover with cling film and allow to rest from 2 to 3 hours or until the dough doubled in size.

Shape

  • Transfer the dough onto a floured surface. Gently knead it for a couple of seconds to knock out the air bubbles.
  • Lightly flour your hands and make a long rope about 3-inch thick.
  • Transfer the rope to a parchment-lined cookie sheet and form a ring by connecting the endings to each other.
  • Finish shaping the rosca with your hands.
  • Loosely cover with cling film and allow to proof for about 1 hour in a warm place.

Make the sugar paste

  • Place butter, flour, egg yolk, and confectioner’s sugar in a bowl.
  • Work the ingredients with a fork to combine them, then use your hands to knead and form a smooth sugar paste dough.
  • Now, flour a working surface and roll the sugar paste into a rectangle.
  • Using a spatula, divide it into 8 narrow rectangles. Check the video.

Decore

  • Make the egg wash by whisking the egg and milk together, then brush the rosca with it.
  • Arrange first the sugar paste rectangles. Then, add the candied fruits in the spaces between the sugar paste decorations.

Bake

  • Pop the rosca into the preheated oven (375°F/190°C) and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and place the baking tray on a countertop.
  • Let it cool for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely.

Notes

  • If you place plastic figurines into the bread, do it after the bread has cooled down, inserting the pieces from the bottom.
  • If you using ate de guayaba or membrillo chances are that will melt a bit when baking. To avoid this, place them only once the rosca is baked and before cooled.
  • You can use a little bit of marmalade to help the pieces stick to the bread.
  • If the sugar paste gets too smooth after being made, making it impossible to roll, place it for a couple of minutes in the freezer to make it firmer.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 312kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 226mg | Potassium: 76mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 540IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 2mg
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One Comment

  1. Delicious and you have nicely put this recipe together. You have put a lot of effort into writing this blog. Will try to cook for my hubby as he is very particular to taste.