>> Friday, January 7, 2011
Roscón de Reyes is a strong tradition in Spain (check the pronunciation of roscón here). It is eaten on the Día de Reyes or Three Kings day and also on the previous eve, when traditionally presents are given, in remembrance of the presents the Kings brought to baby Jesus. Roscón de Reyes is a brioche-y bun in the shape of a crown, traditionally studded with colorful candied fruit and scented with orange and lemon zest and orange blossom water (these flavorings are essential to a Spanish roscón, otherwise you just cannot call it such). Today roscón has become so widely popular that the cakes are baked all over Spain in huge amounts since the beginning of January or even earlier, which inevitably means that in many supermarkets and pastry shops you find stuff of very low quality. Which inevitably leads, if you are fond of baking at all like I am, to prepare it yourself. And it is not difficult, only a bit time consuming as any yeast-leavened sweet bread is. But well worth the effort.
The Christmas season has not always been so Christian as it is now. The origin of roscón has nothing to do with the arrival of the Magi to Bethlehem to worship the child, but appears to be related to the Roman Saturnalia. These were celebrations dedicated to the god Saturn in which the Roman people celebrated the longer days that started soon after the winter solstice. For these celebrations round cakes with figs, dates and honey were prepared, which were divided equally among the commoners and the slaves. Already in the 3rd century, it was usual to hide a dry bean inside the cake, and the fortunate finder was named king of kings for a short period of time agreed beforehand. This type of game was popular in the Iberian peninsula since the Roman era, he who found the bean had to pay the treat for the others... Nowadays a small figurine is hidden in the cake and the person who happens to find it is set to pay for the roscón. That is not possible if you make it at home, of course.
This recipe is uncomplicated and it works, although you need to have a basic knowledge of bread kneading and sweet doughs in general. It is adapted from my Thermomix cookbook. It yields 2 medium roscones or a large one.
Roscón de Reyes
For the flavored sugar
For the preferment
For the main dough
And by the way, this is my first submission of the year for YeastSpotting, Happy New Year, Susan!