Roscón de Reyes: Tracing The Origins Of This Spanish Dessert
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It's all about Roscón de Reyes in Spain, so forget about gingerbread and candy canes.  Families gather to eat lavish Christmas feasts that stretch for hours, with talk continuing around the table long after the last bite has been consumed, throughout Spain in late December and early January. Families differ in what they serve, so you'll probably never see the same spread twice.

But one thing always seems to be there in every Spanish home soon after the new year: the one and only Roscón de Reyes. This delicious crown-shaped dessert, similar to the King's cake available in New Orleans, will definitely make getting out of bed on a chilly January morning worthwhile, even if the prospect of presents doesn't.

Three Kings Day in Spain is mostly a culinary event, similar to most other winter celebrations in Spain. The star of the show is the delectable Roscón de Reyes, which is ideal as a celebratory breakfast, midday snack, or dessert.

What Is Roscon De Reyes?

The name Roscón de Reyes, which means "kings cake" in English, refers to a cake with an oval or circular form that resembles a gigantic doughnut. It looks like a jewelled crown, with candied fruit decorating the top and a delicious, creamy filling inside.

The English term "cake" is sometimes used to characterise Spain's Roscón de Reyes; however, it's more accurately defined as a sweet bread (akin to a brioche). Because of this, it's not quite as moist as your typical cake, but it's still rather tasty.

There are differences in Roscon's filling. But traditionally, roscons are either filled with sweet whipped cream, sometimes chocolate buttercream, or have no filling at all. Let's look at how this classic winter treat came to be.

The History Of Roscon De Reyes

The cake's origins can be traced to a pagan custom that marked the winter solstice in ancient Rome. For the celebration, a circular cake was made and embellished with honey, dates, and figs. By the third century, someone had discovered a dried bean concealed within a cake, making them the day's king of kings. The cake quickly spread like an Advent wreath as Christianity grew.

The cake was mentioned in writing for the first time in the twelfth century. It was compared favourably to the French King's Cake. The customs surrounding Three Kings cakes were established by the fourteenth century and quickly spread to Spain and America. King Philip V of Spain formally declared it a customary holiday snack for the aristocracy and monarchy in the 18th century.

The custom of having a bean within their galette has been maintained by French cakes. A little porcelain figurine has become popular in Spain as a means of further representing the infant Jesus and his parents' efforts to hide him from the monarch Herod, who, upon learning of the birth of a new monarch, ordered the slaughter of all firstborn children. On Three Kings Day, eating the cake and discovering the ceramic infant Jesus figurine within symbolised how the Kings followed the star, located the infant Jesus, and celebrated his birth.

Roscon De Reyes Today

Every Spanish family these days has a Roscón de Reyes during the holidays, which is usually had for breakfast on January 6. Even the ancient Roman game has endured, albeit with a modification. The bean, which formerly stood for the ultimate reward, has been demoted. The cake for next year has to be paid for by the person who discovers it.

Instead, a little miniature of a king (typically) designates the winning slice. Most roscons come in a box with a paper crown that is worn by the victor. Instead of a monarch, some cakes will include a little figurine of the newborn Jesus or even a well-known figure from pop culture.