My First Rosca de Reyes

Happy New Year amigos!

Just when you thought the parties and food was over…it’s not! In Mexico the festive season continues. Here’s a breakdown of upcoming official holidays and the recipes found on dinner tables.

January 6: Día de Los Reyes or Three Kings Day

This holiday represents the day three wise men gave gifts to Jesus Christ. The day closes the Christmas festivities and is the day the people of Mexico exchange gifts. During Día de Los Reyes, Mexicans serve Rosca de Reyes, or King’s Cake. “Rosca” means wreath and “reyes” means kings. The Rosca de Reyes has an oval shape to symbolize a crown and has a small doll inside which represents baby Jesus. The doll figure symbolizes the hiding of the infant Jesus from King Herod’s troops. Traditionally roscas are adorned with dried and candied fruits like figs, quinces, or cherries to symbolize the many jewels that a crown would have. The person who gets the slice with the doll must host a party on Dia de la Candelaria in February.

You can read more about this holiday on this Dia de Los Reyes (King’s Day) we wrote last year.

February 2: Dia de la Candelaria or Candlemas

This is a religious holiday that includes processions, dancing, bullfights (in some cities) and a blessing of seeds and candles. Día de la Candelaria typically includes the Mexican drinks of Atole, Champurrado, and Tamales.

You can read more about this holiday here: Día de la Candelaria (Candlemas).

Last year, 2011 flew by and I had a long list of cooking goals. One of those goals was to make a Rosca de Reyes. Well, it never happened, and so this year I was determined. I told my children all about the special holiday and enlisted their help preparing the bread. They were very excited. They both love helping me in the kitchen, so when the day came to make the bread they woke me up extra early. We gathered all our ingredients, took turns pouring ingredients into the mixer, rolling and kneading the dough, and checking on the dough as it rose. It was an especially busy day because aside from baking we were also cleaning up all the toys that had exploded all over our living room floor. There was also the usual unpacking and washing piles of clothes from our holiday vacation. Ok, back to the baking…

Once the dough rose we took turns rolling it out and filling it with a bright and festive cranberry and almond filling. It was a blissful day and although there was a lot going on, there was this incredible sense of peace and joy. I enjoyed educating my kids about the significance of the bread and they enjoyed taking turns, it was a mother’s dream day with the kid’s en la cocina. Can you picture it?

We filled the dough and it was beautiful. The filling was delicately scented with dried fruits and nuts. I had originally planned to make a raisin and date filling, but in the end decided on a cranberry and almond filling. The filling we made was delicious and colorful.

After we filled our dough, we rolled it, and split it in half (lengthwise), and then twist it and let it rise again. It turned into a beautiful looking wreath and we were all feeling pretty proud.

We adorned it with cherries to represent ruby jewels and finally the moment came to put this beautiful wreath in the oven.

This part is making me sad just thinking about it. By this time I was very tired from a whole day in the kitchen and cleaning the floor after the kids had a little too much fun playing with the flour.

The wreath went into the oven and I set the timer. I went upstairs to fold laundry and asked my 9-year old daughter to let me know when the timer went off. As I folded laundry I was grinning from ear to ear as the smell of the bread baking wafted through our home. I was still feeling very proud and was enjoying my thoughts of my day with the kids. As my thoughts subsided the sudden smell of burnt bread brought me back to reality. I scrambled downstairs and heard the timer going off and saw my daughter hypnotized by the TV. I raced to the oven and pulled out the bread. As I pulled out the bread I quickly noticed parts of it had actually burnt. Now, here’s my confession…I screamed at my poor daughter. I told her that she ruined our bread and all of our hard work was all for nothing. I sent her to her room crying and I was crying looking at this burnt wreath. I was so torn about what to do. Do I throw it away? Do I scrape the burnt pieces and powder it with sugar or add a milky white glaze? As I pondered my ideas I could hear my daughter sobbing upstairs. Not only was I stressed about the bread but I was also mad at myself for being so hard on my daughter, who felt horribly about her mistake.

After having sent her to her room in tears I felt so guilty about how I over-reacted. Our rosca was not perfect and after apologizing to my daughter I realized it was my fault. I never should have left her in charge of listening for the timer knowing how mesmerized she gets while watching TV. All I can hope and pray for now is that she remembers how much fun we all had making the bread and not my screaming and over-reacting to the slightly burnt rosca. After giving this a lot of thought I think my kids taught me a lesson — The importance of spending quality time together. The time well spent taking turns, measuring and just being together in the kitchen. I hope they remember that moment and not the burnt bread. After all was said and done it wasn’t that burnt. I hope I can find a way to make it up to her somehow.

The recipe below has some added precautions on how to make this bread in your home ensuring it doesn’t burn.

Here is hoping you have peace in your home making this rosca.

Rosca de Reyes with Cranberry-Almond Filling and an Eggnog Glaze

Yield: 12 servings


1 packet (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (about 110° F)
3/4 cup warm milk (about 110° F)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

For the Cranberry-Almond Filling:
3/4 cup organic dried cranberries, soaked in 1/2 cup brandy
8 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel
1 teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Eggnog Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
4 to 6 teaspoons eggnog

Maraschino cherries


In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and let it foam up for a minute or two. Blend in the milk, sugar, butter, salt, eggs and lime peel. Stir in two cups of the flour, a little at a time. Beat for 2 minutes. Add remaining flour until you have soft, workable dough. Note: Your dough will be sticky.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl large enough to accommodate dough when doubled in size. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).

Meanwhile, prepare the Cranberry-Almond Filling. Drain the dried fruit of its liqueur. In a small bowl, combine the drained fruit with remaining filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.

When dough has risen and doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured board, kneading just enough to release any air bubbles. Roll out the dough into a 9- by 30-inch rectangle. Crumble the filling over the dough to within 1 inch of the edges. Starting along a long side, tightly roll up the dough, pinching edge against loaf to seal.

With a sharp knife, cut roll in half lengthwise, carefully turn cut sides up, and loosely twist ropes around each other, keeping cut sides up.

Carefully transfer the bread to a greased and floured baking sheet or pizza stone and shape into a wreath, pinching ends together to seal. Let it rise, uncovered, in a warm place until puffy, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Place the cherries (cut in half) on top of the wreath to decorate.

Bake wreath until lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes, covering the wreath loosely with foil after the first 15 minutes, as it will brown quickly.

While wreath is baking, prepare eggnog glaze.

Combine sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg. Stir in enough eggnog to reach drizzling consistency.

When wreath is done, transfer to a cooling rack with wide spatulas or a pizza peel. Cool for a few minutes then drizzle the glaze and grate a little bit of fresh nutmeg over the icing.

adapted from TheKitchn

I chose to add the plastic doll to the wreath after it was baked and cooled and slipped it into a secret slit. I completely cooled my wreath and wrapped it tightly in foil on a cookie sheet and refrigerated it.

We have an epiphany dinner we are attending Friday night, so I plan to store the wreath at room temperature a few hours before the party and then re-heat it (covered) at 350° F for 10 to 15 minutes and then I’ll drizzle the glaze right before serving. I’m hoping the glaze will hide some of the imperfections and give it a yummy sweet flavor.

I’ll post epiphany dinner photos later, and taste results of this bread with the eggnog glaze.

Remember…The custom is that whoever finds the doll must host a party on Candlemas (February 2nd).

Isn’t this baby doll adorable? I bought a package of them at Hobby Lobby.

Feliz Día de Los Reyes!

Written by Yvette / Photos by Yvette

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  1. What a beautiful Rosca! The filling is gorgeous! And I’m sure it was delicious. I’m also sure that your children will look back on this day and remember the fun you had in the kitchen and the time you got to spend together.

    Feliz Dia de Reyes!

    • Gracias Leslie!!! I was VERY hesitant to post the final photos of the over baked rosca. After a few days I got over it and figured all of our cooking adventures don’t always go as planned and all we can do about it is laugh and learn.

      Feliz Dia de Reyes!

  2. It is beautiful! A great treat!

    Happy New Year!



  3. I love this story. I love to bake as well and I consider myself a perfectionist. I have five children that like to help in the kitchen at times. I will remember this story the next time I bake with my children. Thank you.

    • Aida, as a perfectionist myself I almost did not post this recipe/photos. But after a few days I figured mishaps happen and all we can do is learn from them. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. I think it looks really good. I’ve posted about one or two of my kitchen mishaps too. When you cook as much as we do it is bound to happen. You can never go wrong cooking with assistants as adorable as these. Happy New Year to you too!

  5. Sometimes the imperfections we find in life help us to remember the true reason of the season. It may not be a perfect bread, but the time spent together with family in the kitchen is always perfect, even with the imperfections. Thank you for sharing your recipes. Can’t wait to try it out for our Epiphany party next year! 🙂

  6. In Querétaro, MX, yesterday, both Sam’s Club and Costco were showcasing literally thousands (yes, thousands!) of Roscas de Reyes. How much better off would home cooks have been if they had first seen your beautiful post! Just lovely. And how good does Eggnog Glaze sound?????

    • WOW Vicki! You should post a photo of that on your blog. So very cool! You’ll never see Roscas at Sam’s or Costco in the U.S. Well, maybe so, but not in Colorado. That’s wonderful that the tradition is so alive in Mexico.

      I’ll be adding the eggnog glaze tonight and can’t wait to see and it. YUM!

  7. Que rico. Love the photos of the kiddies 🙂

  8. Yvette, I love this post. Not only because the rosca’s ingredients are some of my favorite flavors, but because it is about real life. No one is perfect, we all have kitchen mistakes now and then. They keep us grounded right 🙂 Besides I think the rosca still looks beautiful. For me it is the heartfelt story of how the bread came to be. I highly doubt your niña will remember the crying or yelling, you’ll laugh about it soon enough:) Feliz año nuevo and best wishes to you for a fantastic 2011.

    • Thank you so much Nancy! The rosca was tastier than I even imagined. The lime and orange zest really gave this bread a tasty citrus flavor and then the filling plus the glaze on top was decadent.

      I let my daughter read my post and she said she was embarrassed that I shared her mistake, but then once she read the end she felt very proud and happy. I think it was a great lesson learned for all of us.

  9. This is so cool! i love this pastry and it looks beautiful and i love how your children are involved (very beautiful children also!) such a great post, thank you for sharing!

  10. Yvette, thanks for this post. I have been there with my own children, sometimes forgetting the point of the Whole Thing. I think sometimes we juggle so much we forget to have fun, and we work so hard to produce perfection that it spills over into our family life. The most important part, I think, is learning from our mistakes and seeing the beauty of time spend with our children. It is a great lesson for both of you, and will now be in your mind the next time you work on a project together. And it is a good reminder for me, too.

    I think the rosca looks beautiful. And so do your children. Do it again soon to firmly implant happy memories.


    • Thanks Monica for your empathy. I’m glad I’m not the only mom who runs out of patience and sometimes takes it out on the ones we love the most. I truly appreciate your kind words.

      Best wishes to you and your familia in 2012!

  11. That Rosca de Reyes looks fantastic, absolutely mouthwatering! Good for you that finally decided to post about it. The pictures are beautiful.

    • Thank you perudelights! Jeanine normally takes our photos and so I was extra nervous about posting my own photography. I need to stop being so hard on myself. Thanks for all your sweet compliments.

  12. I love how you braided it, it looks fantastic but quite different from what I’m used to

    • It is my interpretation of a rosca (not necessarily a traditional recipe). I wanted more of a wreath look and shape with a filling. The bread turned out to be truly amazing! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  13. I just made a Rosca de reyes for the first time yesterday. Yours turned out much prettier than mine though! I love the braided look of cutting the roll in half and making it into a wreath. I’m going to give your version a try next time! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    PS. Also, thank you for your honesty in your post. At times it’s hard not to project our frustrations onto our children. I know I’ve done it more than I care to admit.

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  15. I am going to give a try cause it looks beautiful and delicious!!

  16. Well, let me begin by saying that I think your Rosca looks beautiful. I have never seen one that was filled and then split and twisted/braided. It’s just gorgeous. I love your choice of cranberry/almond filling, actually. And your and kids spent a great day together making the bread…and kids are resilient…I think she’ll remember the good parts. I have a few tears in my eyes because I can remember doing the same thing one time or another. I remember yelling and asking why nobody told me that the timer went off (I think I was cleaning up and/or switching laundry loads, etc). They looked at me with their big, beautiful eyes and I felt like the biggest a-hole on the face of the earth. I think that they have to know that we’re only human and our emotions sometimes get the best of us. As long as they also see that we apologize and give them hugs and kisses and admit our mistakes, ya know?

    Anyway…I’m rambling. But yes, I can see the hard work you guys put into your Rosca…not the slightly burnt edges here and there. It’s beautiful!

    • Thank you Heather! Thanks for your “rambling”. We are mothers, and human. I’m so happy to read all the supportive comments and especially happy to see everyone loved the photos that I took, which are not professional by any means.

  17. It looks like everyone had a good time by seeing all those smiles. I would be smiling too…if I had a slice of your beautiful Rosca.

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  19. Can I admit I’ve stayed away from making one because it seems so difficult? But looking at your photographs makes it seem totally doable! Not to mention I love the fillings you used so maybe a rosca this weekend will be a fun project!

  20. Your first Rosca came out just perfect. You’ve inspired me to make sure I make my own for the next Dia de Los Reyes.

  21. I had to do a presentation on a Spanish Holiday, for my Spanish final, so I choose three kings day. I made this rosca and it turned out beautifully! It put my presentation on top. Thank you so much for the yummy recipe!

  22. I see this is almost a year old, but I too think your Rosca is beautiful. It is easy to relate to your experience with your daughter. I’m sorry that happened to you both and I hope you don’t take yourself too much to task for it.

  23. Gorgeous! Thank you! I’ll be making this for Three Kings’ Day that we have to postpone until the 13th. I’ll be using almond filling. Any idea how many 12.5 oz. cans I would need with the fresh cranberries? Thanks again & God bless!

    • Hola Judith,

      Are you going to use canned cranberries vs. fresh? You only need 3/4 cups of cranberries so 1 can will be sufficient. I hope that answers your question.

      Have a great Three King’s Day dinner on the 13th! Good luck and keep us posted.

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  26. Hi There! I just found your link on Pinterest as I’m contemplating making my rosca next Tuesday. I love the filling but you mentioned a date and raising filling….do you have an idea of what filling measurements to use for that?? Sounds marvelous and I’m not a fan of the usual dried candies and fruits but like this for it looks sooo elegant!!

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  28. Well, I think it looks ok.  I’ve yelled at my kids too. but it is a good lesson for them.  May be partly your fault, but they do need to learn to pay attention to what is going on around them.  Sometimes we have to divide our attention to more than one task.  And do well at both.  So many life lessons for both Mom and daughter this blog–as well as a wonderful memory of a delightful treat.Thanks for sharing

  29. Wow, and to think that at your daughter’s age I was flying alone, internationally, navigating customs, airport transfers, and taxis by myself. I suppose when something is important enough to you, you ignore all else until taught otherwise.

  30. I love this version!!!! I tried it and got it perfect!!! THANKS FOR SHARING!!! Reply

    Excelent version.

  31. I love this version!!!! I tried it and got it perfect!!! THANKS FOR SHARING!!! Reply

    Excelent version!!!

  32. I made your rosca for my husband and I this year. Your pictures looked delicious, so I decided to try your recipe. We absolutely LOVE it!! It came out soooo good. I wish I could send you a picture. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe with us.

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