Roscón de Reyes

Tradition Epiphany cake

In one of my Spanish lessons we were discussing the Reyes tradition: how Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar followed the star to Bethlehem, bringing presents, and how in Spain most towns will do a Cabalgata de Reyes on January 5th, some of them quite spectacular. The whole family goes out and children are delighted to catch the sweets thrown by the Kings’s pages. The Kings will have been available for a few days, collecting from the children themselves carefully crafted letters stating how good each child has been and all the presents he or she would like to receive.

Tradition Epiphany cake

After the parade, Kings, camels and pages have a very busy night: each child will place their shoes in the balcony or close to a window, along with water for the camels and something nice for the Kings to munch on. Come morning, the water has been drunk, the nibbles have been eaten and the presents are in the shoes unless… there is charcoal! “¡Pórtate bien o los Reyes te traerán carbón!” is not an empty threat: if a child does not behave properly, instead of presents, charcoal will be delivered! But the Three Wise Men have a big heart and the charcoal is actually a sweet, so it is not such a terrible punishment after all.

Not looking very impressed, all one of my students had to say was “But there is not such thing as a wise man, much less three!”… At least now I know, right? Still, I gave her a piece of Roscón de Reyes.

Roscón de Reyes is a doughnut shaped yeasted dough, about 30 cm in diameter, decorated with candied fruit and filled with marzipan. The one you can see in the picture above is a quite short in both the fruit and the filling front but, at least, it contained the essentials: a fava bean and a toy. The roscón must be cut with great care and then an “innocent”, usually the youngest child, will say which part goes to whom: find the bean and you must pay for next year’s roscón, find the toy and you shall be crowned King or Queen of the evening… No roscón is sold without a crown, obviously!

Roscón is traditionally eaten along with proper hot chocolate, not emergency hot chocolate. I will not teach you how to make roscón  because it is a lengthy process but if you would like to keep up with the Three Kings, why not offer a  Cook and Chat voucher as a present? Buy it here, enjoy it in your kitchen!