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Rosca de Reyes | Bolo de Reis | Three Kings Bread

Posted on January 12 2015

This cake/bread is supposed to resemble a kings crown and only eaten after Christmas sometimes up until lent. Most of Latin America only eats it on January 6th, when most children get their presents (as opposed to getting them on Christmas). The history is long and involves kings, shoes, hay, camels, a baby, etc. You can google it. 

I bought Fany's book in 2010 while living in California but find myself using it more now that I live in Brazil. I made this recipe a few weeks ago for my Brazilian friends and they loved it. It was my very first attempt at making a Rosca de Reyes and it was fairly easy; it does take a while but the end result was worth it. I took a few artistic liberties like adding candied ginger and making my own food coloring but the recipe core is all Fany Gerson. It is my favorite book for desserts and sweets of Mexico; I travel throughout all of Latin America and spend a good amount of time eating desserts, talking to chefs and reading at the national libraries. I would say her books are the best at representing real, every day breads, candies, and desserts of any country.  

Recipe by Fany Gerson, "My Sweet Mexico", you can buy her hard book here:

Or her ebook here:


Dough ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp

Topping ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus ¼ cup for sprinkling
  • 6 tablespoons butter or vegetable shortening
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Dough recipe:

  1. Mix yeast, orange water, 1/3 cup milk, ½ cup water and let rise in warm place 20 minutes.
  2. In mixing bowl with hook attachment add flour, sugar, salt, orange zest-mix 30 seconds.
  3. Add eggs, milk, yeast dough, mix low until dough comes together.
  4. Add butter slowly then increase to high mix for 15 minutes.
  5. If the dough isn’t coming off the sides, add 2-4 tablespoons of flour.
  6. Grease large bowl and place dough inside, cover, let rise in warm place 1 hour.
  7. Punch down dough, flip over, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  8. Remove from fridge and let rest 1 hour.
  9. Cut dough in half, shape into a ball and set on baking sheet, make hole in the center and shape into a large doughnut.
  10. Hide the cacao seed (or baby Jesus) under the dough. Cover dough and let rise 1 hour in warm place.
  11. Preheat oven to 350f (176c)

Topping recipe:

  1. Mix flour, sugar, butter, and vanilla. If you want to color this dough use natural fruit juice.
  2. This dough should be soft but easily roll into a ball. If you need to add more flour use 2-4 tablespoons.

Dough recipe continued ...

    12. Brush egg wash over dough; decorate with topping, fruit, and nuts.  

    13. Bake 30-40 minutes until sides and bottom are golden brown.


Candied Ginger recipe

  1. 1 cup of chopped ginger –boil in 2 cups of water, drain water- repeat 3 times
  2. 5 cups of sugar – 4th time you add water, add 4 cups of water and sugar.
  3. Boil until it becomes a thick syrup
  4. Remove ginger with slotted spoon or place on rack to drain.
  5. Let cool then toss in sugar to remove stickiness





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