Yesterday was a fairly special day in the Mexican calendar. Means fek all on the irish calendar, but who cares about that?
It was 3 Kings day. I'm sure you remember the story. We had posada a few days before christmas ("no room at the inn") and we had christmas day ("baby jesus day") and now we have the day when three wise men ("Well, what are you doing creeping around a cow shed at two o'clock in the morning? That doesn't sound very wise to me.") come to visit to give gifts of gold, frenenstien and murr, which is a type of balm ("A balm, what are you giving him a balm for? It might bite him. It's a dangerous animal. Quick, throw it in the trough.")
Anyway. Tradionally kids gets toys, and a big bread called a Rosca De Reyes (Kings Bread) is made.
We tried to make one last year but it didn't come out too well. It was hard, and fairly flavourless. Being tech savy, we decided to consult The Google.
There must be a hundred sites claiming to have to "traditional rosca" recipe, and each one is completely different to the next. How much flour? 2, 5, 6 or 8 cups. How many eggs? 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 or 10. What about yeast? Always use fresh, never use fresh, only use brand X, use 3 packs, use 4 packs, don't use yeast. What about sugar? Use 1, 2 or 3 cups, don't use any, use condensed milk, use brown, use white, use caster.
Eventually we selected one that seemed simple enough to make, containing ingredients we actually had. I'm going to try to tell you how it's done below:
30 gramos o 4 sobres de levadura.
5 tazas de harina de trigo.
200 gramos de mantequilla (dos barritas)
4 huevos completos.
8 yemas de huevo solamente.
1 lata de leche condensada.
1/2 cuchardita de sal.
1 cucharada de agua de azahar (naranja).
1 taza de frutas cubiertas picadas (cristalizadas).
2 o más muñequitos de plástico.
1 huevo batido para barnizar.
2 higos cubiertos cortados en rajitas.
10 cerezas partidas a la mitad.
2 naranjas cubiertas cortadas en rajitas.
4 packs of yeast
5 cups of bread (high grade) flour
8 egg yolks
1 tin of condensed milk
half teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon agua de azahar (can't get in NZ - use orange juice instead)
some sliced fuit (we ignored the specifics and just used our own. cherries, pineapple, figs and dried apricot)
First, turn on your oven if you don't live in a hot country. You'll need the warmth to help it rise. Even on a hot day here, it's not really hot enough. More on that later.
Seive the flour into a big bowl (or direct on your workspace if you don't mind the mess) and add the dry yeast. I don't use fresh yeast - too much hastle. Put the ingredients into the center of the flour a bit at a time. Keep half the butter back though. Combine it into a big messy goo. Contine to mix & knead it. If it's still very wet, you can add another cup of flour, but no more. Continue to work it until it's ready (I know - vague - but it's ready when it's ready.) It takes about 45 minutes or so.
When it's all combined and looking quite good, add the rest of the butter. It will feel horrible - like a greasy snake or eel. Keep working it until the butter is absorbed. It'll take about 10 minutes or so.
When it's all absorbed, and you can easily form it into a ball, it's done. You can try pressing it with your finger. If it pops out again, then it's probably ready.
Find a big bowl, and rub butter on the inside. Sprinkle with flour. Put the dough into the bowl, and cover with a damp towel. Place it somewhere wartm (but not hot). I leave my oven on for 40 minutes, then switch it off witht he door open. I leave the bowl on the open door.
Allow it to rise. It should double in size in a about an hour. Ours got so big I thought the kitchen mightn't be big enough...
What a monster!!
When it's doubled, take it out and dump it on your work space. Bash out the air, and make it into a very long snake. It should make about 1 meter, thick enough that you can get you thumb and middle finger to meet round it.
Form it into a wreath shape, and pinch the ends together.
Like s snake eating it's tail.
Cover the whole thing with egg, and stick on the bits of fruit. Tradionally, you can also make a biscuit topping from flour, butter and suger and cover sections of the rosca with that. not the whole thing, just bits.
Allow it to rise for 20 minutes, then pop it into your oven at 200 degrees.
It will bake in about an hour, and should double in size.
Check it out:
The baked Rosca
The finished product
Tastes fantastic! The traditonal way to eat it is dipped in hot chocolate. Who am I to stand in the way of tradition?