Rosca de Reyes is a ring-shaped yeasted sweet bread served to celebrate the Epiphany, though its cultural significance transcends its religious beginnings nowadays. Making your own rosca is easier than you think! With a basic pan dulce bread and toppings such as maraschino cherries, dried figs, candied citrus peel, fruit paste (such as ate de guayaba or membrillo) nuts (pecans or almonds are best), and a crunchy sugar topping laid out in stripes, you can make a delicious and traditional rosca at home.
For the bread:
- 200 grams bread flour
- 5 grams instant yeast
- 36 grams granulated sugar (I prefer Zulka brand, as I prefer the taste of unrefined sugar over white processed sugar, but you can also use regular white sugar)
- 100 grams whole milk, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 40 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 grams kosher salt
- Cooking spray or vegetable/canola oil to lightly grease a bowl for the dough to rise
- A few tablespoons of all-purpose flour to flour your work surface while shaping the bread
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature, to keep the dough moist during the second rise
For the crunchy sugar paste topping:
- 50 grams all-purpose flour
- 50 grams powdered sugar (azúcar glass)
- 50 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 1–2 dried figs, stem trimmed off, and quartered
- candied citrus peel (I like orange)
- 2–3 maraschino cherries, cut in half
- 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
Ideas for alternative toppings:
- ate de guayaba (guava paste), cut into strips
- membrillo (quince paste), cut into strips
- slivered almonds
- Measure and add 200 grams bread flour, 5 grams instant yeast and 36 grams granulated sugar to your stand mixer bowl. Mix on low speed with your dough hook attachment to gently combine the dry ingredients. Do not add the salt yet!
- Add 100 grams whole milk and 1 large egg and continue mixing on low speed until mostly combined. The dough will be sticky and lumpy at this stage.
- Stop the mixer and add 40 grams unsalted butter, then increase speed to medium (4 on a KitchenAid). After the mixer has been going for about 5 minutes and the dough begins to gather around the hook a bit, add 3 grams kosher salt, sprinkled around the bowl.
- Continue with the dough hook on medium speed for another 10 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when most of the dough gathers around the hook; sometimes it also makes a slapping sound against the side of the bowl.
- Spray cooking spray or lightly grease the inside of a large glass bowl with vegetable or canola oil. Turn the dough out from the stand mixer bowl and scrape out any dough sticking to the sides. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot in the kitchen to rise for 2 hours, until doubled in size.
- After the dough has doubled in size, remove the cling wrap from the bowl and gently push a few fingers down into the middle of the dough to release some of the gas. Use a few tablespoons of all-purpose flour to flour your work surface and turn the dough out onto the flour.
- Put a piece of parchment paper down on a baking sheet and then transfer the dough log to the baking sheet. Arrange the dough in the shape of an oval. If it helps, you can use a small dish placed in the middle of your dough ring to help make sure your oval is even. Tuck one end of the dough log underneath the other and try to smooth the seam a bit with a wet finger (just dip your finger into some running water from the faucet; that should be sufficient).
- If you’re baking a baby Jesus figurine into your bread, this is the point where you’ll want to insert them into the sides or bottom of the bread before it rises. If you’re not using a baby, skip this step.
- Take the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter at room temperature and rub it between your hands to grease your hands up. Gently use your hands to pat the dough ring to help keep it moist during the second rise. Get as much of the butter off your hands as possible, then cover the dough loosely with cling wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rise again in a warm place for about 90 minutes.
- While the dough is going through the second rise, make the crunchy sugar topping. Add 50 grams all-purpose flour, 50 grams powdered sugar, 50 grams unsalted butter at room temperature and 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract to a bowl. Use your hands to incorporate the ingredients until you have a completely smooth paste. Shape it into a rectangle and cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to roll it out.
- Once the dough has gone through the second rise, remove the kitchen towel and cling wrap and begin preparing your toppings by quartering the dried figs, halving the cherries and chopping the nuts. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the sugar paste from the refrigerator and place it between two pieces of parchment paper. It’s important to work quickly at this stage because if the paste gets too warm, it will stick to the parchment. Gently roll it out into a rectangle, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Remove the top layer of parchment paper and use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to make uniform cuts to get 4 equal strips. All 4 sides of each rectangle should be straight-edge cuts. Cut away any excess. Drape each rectangle of sugar paste over the 4 corners of the bread.
- Place all your topping ingredients; the dough should be a bit sticky and it shouldn’t be hard to get the toppings to stay on. The chopped nuts sometimes need to be gently pushed into the dough a bit to get them to stick.
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes, until the exposed dough starts to brown, but the sugar crust topping is still white.
You will need a kitchen scale to get precise measurement of the ingredients and a stand mixer such as a KitchenAid mixer and dough hook attachment to make the dough.
Keywords: Rosca de Reyes, rosca