Rosca: Tres Reyes Tradition & More

January 6th is celebrated to commemorate the day on which the Three Kings brought gifts to the Baby Jesus in the stable in Bethlehem. On this day the traditional Rosca de Reyes is eaten.  A rosca is a circle of sweet bread  decorated with dried fruits.  Hidden inside are one or more figures of the Baby Jesus. The lucky ones who get the Baby in their piece have to treat the group to tamales on 2 February, Candlemas Day.

Traditionally, Nativity sets must be kept up until Candlemas Day.



Prep Time: 35 mins,     Bake Time: 25 mins,     Rising: 2:15,      Total Time: 3:15

Sweet Bread Ingredients

  • 1 packet active dry yeast,   (2¼  tsp.)
  • ¼ warm water, about 110° F
  • ¾ warm milk, about 110° F
  • 3 sugar
  • ¼ unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. lime peel, grated
  • 3½  c. all-purpose flour, divided

For the Cranberry-Almond Filling:

  • ¾ c.  dried cranberries soaked in ½ c. brandy
  • 8 Tbsp. butter, softened to room temperature
  • ⅓ c. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ c. finely chopped blanched almonds
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated orange peel
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

For the Eggnog Glaze:

  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp.vanilla extract
  • dash freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 – 6 tsp. eggnog


  • Maraschino cherries


  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water and let foam up for a minute or two.  Blend in milk, sugar, butter, salt, eggs and lime peel.  Stir in 2 cups of the flour, a little at a time. Beat for 2 mins.   Add remaining flour until dough is soft, workable, and sticky2.
  2. Dump dough onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth, about 5 to 10 min., adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place in lightly oiled mixing bowl large enough to accommodate dough when doubled in size. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled (about 1½ hr).
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the Cranberry-Almond Filling. Drain the dried fruit of its liqueur. In a small bowl, combine the fruit with remaining filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.4.
  4. When dough has risen and doubled in size, punch down and turn out onto lightly floured board, kneading just enough to release any air bubbles. Roll dough into a 9”x30” rectangle. Crumble the filling over the dough to within 1 inch of edges. Starting along a long side, tightly roll up dough, pinching edge against loaf to seal.5.
  5. With sharp knife, cut roll in half lengthwise, carefully turn cut sides up, and loosely twist ropes around each other, keeping cut sides up.6.
  6. 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 rise, uncovered, in a warm place until puffy, about 45 minutes.7.
  7. Preheat oven to 350° F.8.
  8. Place the cherries (cut in half) on top of wreath to decorate.9.
  9. Bake wreath until lightly browned, about 20 – 25 min, covering loosely with foil after first 15 min, 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 cooling rack.  Cool for a few minutes then drizzle the glaze and grate a little bit of fresh nutmeg over the icing.

Author: Yvette Marquez


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