Traditional Mexican Recipe: Rosca de Reyes

The month of January brings many new things, of course beginning with the celebration of the año Nuevo (New Year). Although the joy of Christmas has come and gone, the traditional celebration of Baby Jesus’ life continues in Mexico and Latin America. The first week of January is one to be celebrated by people of all ages, especially in Mexico. January 6, better known as “Dia de Los Reyesor Three Kings Day is the celebration of the three wise men coming to bear gifts to baby Jesus. Families in Mexico celebrate this holiday by gathering together, and feasting on delicious food – always which include Rosca de Reyes.

Rosca de Reyes is a tradition that originated in Spain and has been observed in Mexico for hundreds of years. Rosca de Reyes is a fruit cake that is shaped into an oval to represent a crown, just like that of a Rey, or King. The sweetness of the bread and the bright festive colors of the fruit make this dish a fun and easy recipe to make and enjoy as a family. It is also important to note that traditionally, a little baby Jesus is hidden and baked into the bread. Whoever gets the baby Jesus in their slice while eating is said to have been “blessed” and they are then responsible for hosting the next event. The next event is Dia de la Candelaria, celebrated every year on February second. Although in the United States Ground Hog day is observed on this date, Mexicans observe Dia de la Candelaria as the day that Jesus first entered the temple. The celebration of course includes the joining of families, but also enormous amounts of tamales!

To really dive into the culture of Mexico, we suggest that you make your very own Rosca de Reyes. With less than a dozen simple steps, try making this bread on a cozy afternoon. Below is the recipe for making Rosca de Reyes according to inspiration from Mexico in My Kitchen.

Insider Tip: According to Valeria Martinez, Weddings Manager for Weddings by Lomas Travel in Riviera Maya, Rosca de Reyes goes perfectly with a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate!

First make the bread:

  • 1/2 cup of warm water (be sure that the water is warm, not hot, not cold, it is important for the yeast)
  • 1 Envelopes (7 grams) of dry active yeast
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 or 3 Tbsp. more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup of sugar, if you want sweeter add 1/4 cup extra, this is to taste!
  • 3 large whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks mixed with 4 Tablespoons of milk
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon orange extract
  • 1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened (3/4 cup) Plus more for the mixing bowl and plastic wrap to grease them
  • Freshly grated orange zest from one orange

For the topping:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons margarine or shortening.
  • 1/2 cup of confectioner sugar
  • Dry fruit like figscandied citronquince paste stripes, orange peels or cherries, have as much fun with this as you’d like- the more festive the better!
  • 1 egg beaten for glazing the bread
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk or water
  • White sugar to sprinkle on top of the bread
  • 1 mini plastic baby doll (to represent the baby Jesus)

Baking Tip: Read the directions carefully . Because this dough is made from scratch, the yeast is very sensitive.


  1. Pour the lukewarm (not hot, not cold!) water into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the packet of yeast evenly over the water. Mix with a fork until all of the yeast is dissolved. Let the water stand for 5-10 minutes so that it becomes foamy. Stir in a half cup of flour, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm place for about a half hour to allow the dough to rise and double in size.
  2. While you are waiting on the dough to double in size, fill your time by jumping to the next step. Mix the remaining flour, whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, orange extract and orange zest, salt, and butter in a large mixing bowl. Mix these ingredients until crumbly. Mix with a whisk, mixer, or by hand, either method is fine. If you have little helping hands this is a great step to have them help knead the dough!
  3. Now that your yeast mixture has risen, add it to the other mixing bowl of kneaded dough. Be prepared that it will create a sticky mess, but don’t let this overwhelm you; simply add flour to relieve the stickiness if necessary. Place the new combination of dough on a counter covered in flour. Knead it until smooth and easy to form. This step should take about 15 minutes, if you are using a KitchenAid, it will take about half the time. Remember, patience is a virtue.

Baking Tip: Start with a little flour to your surface and then add as needed. Using too much flour while kneading will dry out the dough. The dough should always have a damp, wet, feeling to it.

  1. Once the dough is kneaded enough to where it is smooth and soft, place it in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm area for about 90 minutes. The dough will expand to be about twice the size it originally was which means the yeast are at work. Do not rush this process, the longer the yeast has to ferment, the better the flavor.
  2. While the dough is resting, use your time to get a head start on the bread topping. Begin by mixing the margarine with the confectioners’ sugar until smooth and creamy. After this, add in the egg yolk and flour until smooth paste forms.
  3. Once the dough has rested, sprinkle a little flour onto a hard surface again and knead the dough just a little to get it to loosen up. Shape the dough into a large ring. Use any method you would like. Seal the ends of the circle with a little water to mend them together.
  4. Grease a baking sheet and place the ring of dough onto the sheet in the center. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, place baking rack on the lower third rung. While the oven is preheating, gather your items for the bread topping decoration. Create an egg wash by mixing one egg with a little water or milk.
  6. Brush the egg wash onto the dough ring a few times. This will create a golden crust. Then use the confectioners’ sugar paste and form into strips. Use the strips to decorate the ring of dough. Take the fruit and gently press into the dough to add to decoration as well, again, this is another fun step to have little helping hands participate in! Complete by sprinkling the top with sugar.
  7. Place the baking sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees. After the 10 minutes, reduce the heat to about 350 degrees, bake for 10-20 minutes or until the break has a nice golden colored crust.

Baking Tip: Every oven is different, and elevation can impact this as well. The second phase of baking can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes so just be sure to keep an eye on your bread.

  1. Take the bread out of the oven and place on a wire rack for cooling. Once cool enough, place the plastic doll somewhere in the bread, inserting from the bottom of the bread ring. Be sure not to let your family and friends know where the doll is placed!

Baking Tip: Every oven is different, and elevation can impact this as well. The second phase of baking can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes so just be sure to keep an eye on your bread.

Enjoy your new creation with friends and family. Remember, this goes perfectly on a chilly night with a cup of hot authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate. We suggest trying this fun recipe from Mexican Food Journal.

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Do you have an authentic Mexican recipe that you’d like to share? We would love to feature you on our blog! Tag us and let us know with #WeddingsbyFunjet or leave your comments below.

This post was written by Weddings by Funjet

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