One of my favorite breads is called a Crown of Kings or Rosca de Reyes. It’s a traditional Mexican bread that celebrates the end of Christmas (yes, Christmas goes from December 25th to January 6th). It is a delicious sweet bread that is decorated to make it look like a crown. The best part is that inside the bread there is usually a tiny little boy. Now before you think I am crazy, let me explain: traditionally the person that finds this tiny figurine (sometimes a tiny baby Jesus) in their piece of bread is in charge of hosting the next Christmas Party. Now that could solve some headaches!!!
Whether you want to start that tradition or not, I still recommend making this bread. It is fun, colorful and delicious. The recipe was shared by a close family friend. ENJOY!!!
2/3 cup (5 fl. oz. Can) of Nestle condenced milk (Usually found in the Mexican food aisle-see picture)
1 pack (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
5 cups of general-purpose flour
Grated peel of 2 oranges (approximately 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds (look in the spice aisle)
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, (1 to varnish)
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, softened
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
A figurine or dry bean wrapped in waxed paper
Fruit or strips of dried or candied fruit (fig, orange, lemon, mango, cherry, pineapple)
Sliced almonds (optional)
- Take 1 tablespoon for the spread and refrigerate. Heat up the rest of the evaporated milk (110°F to 115°F). Add the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let it stand for 10 minutes.
- COMBINE the flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, grated orange peel, cinnamon, anise seeds and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 eggs, the butter, the yeast mixture and the vanilla extract.
- Mix it all together until it forms a soft and creamy dough.
- Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it gently for about 5 minutes to form a ball. Place it in a large greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or until it doubles in size.
- Roll the dough to form a log, then join the ends to form a circle like a crown (you can use a 12-inch round pan as a guide to form the circle).
- Place the crown on a lightly greased large baking sheet. Lift a part of the crown and insert the figurine or the bean underneath. Smooth out any crooked or torn parts of the surface.
- Cover the crown with oiled plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or until it doubles its size. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.
- Combine 1 beaten egg and the spoonful of evaporated milk that you reserved; varnish the surface with a little of this mixture. Decorate the bread by adding dried or candied fruit and almonds. Varnish the surface again. Sprinkle the bread with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
- Bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes or until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when touched. Cool for 10 minutes on a baking sheet. If possible, move it to a metal cooling rack to finish cooling. Store well wrapped at room temperature.