What is all this fuss about getting a bread wreath, which one is better and so on? In Mexico we take the Rosca de Reyes tradition very seriously but where does it come from and what is it exactly?
In Mexico we call it Rosca de Reyes which means the kings wreath and we have it on January the 6th date in which we celebrate the christian tradition that believes in this date the three wise men/kings arrived to Jerusalem to adore the newly born Jesus.
Many are not christian however enjoy promptly the rosca de reyes since it is simply delicious.
The tradition was brought from Spain where they call it Roscón and it is believe to go back to the romans celebrating the god Saturn (thus round) to celebrate the end of the long nights after the winter solstice. Others say that it represents the advent wreath or crown in an edible form.
Recipes vary between Spain and Mexico though.
In Spain the roscon starts to appear in shops by the end of November. It is a brioche type of oval bread that many times comes “sandwiched” with whipped cream in the middle. On top we will find dried and candied fruits such as dates, orange, cherries and more. Inside you may be lucky to find a baby Jesus made of porcelain or plastic and this means good luck for the rest of the starting year.
In Mexico you will not find rosca de reyes before January, in some places it is even conceived as bad luck. In Mexico the rosca is also a brioche type of bread but with very high butter content and orange blossom.
On top we will find acitron (candied cactus), candied figs and oranges; pear, guava and membrillo jelly (ate). In between the fruits you will find a white line made of lard and sugar (which becomes crispy and delicious after baking).
We also hide baby Jesus figures inside, in a large rosca you can find up to 6 babies! However, the meaning is very different. If you get one of this babies you are obliged to cook (or buy) tamales for everyone during the next celebration that takes place on February the 2nd called Candelaria. All the rest of the people that get babies would buy atole (find recipe here) hot chocolate and so on for the party.
If you ever have the chance to try this traditional “cake” you should, I obviously prefer the mexican version!