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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
José Pizarro

José Pizarro’s recipe for roscón de reyes, a traditional Spanish Christmas cake

José Pizarro's roscón de reyes.
José Pizarro’s roscón de reyes. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay. Food styling assistant: Susanna Unsworth.

This traditional Spanish Christmas treat celebrates epiphany and the journey of los reyes magos (the three kings). It’s shaped like a halo and we often hide a figure of the baby Jesus inside, much as the Brits hide coins in Christmas pudding. Sometimes, there’s a dried fava bean in there, too, but beware: if you find it, you have to make the roscón next year! This is great served with thick Spanish hot chocolate.

Roscón de reyes (or the three kings’ cake)

If you like, shape the bread into a ring, then put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, let it come back to room temperature and prove for a couple of hours, finish with the fruit and bake for breakfast or elevenses. Once baked, serve as it is, or split it through the middle and serve filled with sweetened cream and/or more candied fruit, which is especially popular in Spain – try to get hold of whole pieces of fruit to cut up yourself, rather than a tub of ready-chopped stuff you get in the supermarket.

Prep 10 min
Prove 2 hr+
Cook 1 hr
Cool 30 min+
Serves 10

500g bread flour, plus a little extra for dusting
6g fine sea salt
160g whole milk
1 x 7g sachet fast-action yeast
80g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
, softened
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1 tbsp brandy
2 medium
eggs, plus 1 egg white, to glaze
200g mixed candied fruit, chopped
1 tbsp pearl sugar

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then make a well in the centre. In a small pan, heat the milk until it’s lukewarm, then stir in the yeast and sugar. Pour the milk mix into the well in the flour, then mix to a thick batter. Dust with a bit more flour, then cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes.

Add the butter, orange zest, brandy and eggs to the mix, then use your hands to bring it all together into a sticky mass. Tip out on to a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size and looks pillowy.

Grease a baking sheet. Punch down the dough, tip on to a worktop and knead again briefly. Roll out into a 40cm-long x 18cm-wide rectangle, then roll into a thick sausage.

Shape the sausage into a ring – you want it an even thickness all the way around – then seal the ends to complete the circle. Transfer to the baking sheet, cover and leave in a warm place for an hour to an hour and a half, until it has doubled in size again.

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Lightly beat the egg white, brush this all over the bread, then press the candied fruit all over the dough, embedding it a little. Scatter with the pearl sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and risen.

Remove, leave to cool a little, then cool on a rack before serving, either just as it is or split through the middle and filled with sweetened whipped cream.

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