While more and more homes in Spain are receiving visits from Papa Noel at Christmas, the 6th of January is traditionally the time when children receive their gifts, brought to them on the Día de los Reyes, the Day of the Kings, by the Three Kings, the Reyes Magos.
It’s preceded the evening before by a parade through the streets, the Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos which takes place across Spain as dusk falls on 5th January, when crowds of children eagerly follow the procession to collect the rain of sweets thrown down by Sus Majestades..
Declared a Fiesta of National Tourist Interest in 2001, the procession today involves more than one thousand locals, playing the part of pages, torch bearers, servants and soldiers from their majesties’ personal guard, the local music and dance groups …. and, of course, the most important roles of Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar, riding slowly through the town on their camels.
Roscón de Reyes – The Cake of Kings
The Twelve Days of Christmas come to an end on Twelfth Night, the evening of 5th January. Traditionally in Spain this was the night to bake your Roscón de Reyes to be eaten the next day,Epiphany, which celebrates the arrival of The Three Kings.
The Roscón is a light, brioche like sweet bread which is filled and covered with candied fruits and often split and filled with whipped cream or sweet custard. Additionally it is traditional to bake or put into the cake a small trinket (it used to be a figure of the Christ child) and a dried bean. The finder of the trinket in their slice was King for the day, and the finder of the bean had to pay for the cake!
- 200g approx of sultanas, glacé cherries and candied peel, soaked in alcohol if desired
- 500g plain flour
- 1 sachet of quick/easy blend yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 150 ml milk
- 100g softened butter
- 100g caster sugar
- Grated zest of one orange and one lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla essance
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- To decorate – about 6 roughly crushed sugar cubes or 6 heaped teaspoons of sugar dampened with a few drops of water and thick slices of candied peel and some glacé cherries. You will also need one beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of apricot jam diluted with a little water to glaze when the cake is baked.
Mix the flour, yeast and salt together. In a separate bowl beat the sugar, zests and butter until fluffy then gradually add the beaten egg, vanilla essence and milk. It doesn´t matter if it curdles. Now add the flour and knead to form a dough – if it is too dry, add a splash of milk.
Now add the fruits and knead for 5 minutes on a well floured surface with plenty of flour for your hands – things could get messy! Put the dough into a bowl, cover and leave to double in size (about 2 hours).
Now knead again briefly and push a hole into the centre of the dough so that you can start to form a ring. Imagine you are making a pizza doughnut with a hole in the middle. When it is about the size of a large dinner plate, put it onto a lined baking sheet. You can tuck the trinket/bean wrapped in foil under the cake now or put it into the cooled cake later if you are using. Note, next time I make one, I´ll make the hole in the middle larger as the dough rises quite a lot during baking.