One of my favorite pastimes back in Canada was baking. I delighted in trying new recipes and always had a freezer filled with a variety of squares and cookies. I also miss my breadmaker where I made amazing rosemary bread and pizza dough. Here in Mexico I find baking a challenge as many of the ingredients are not available here in Mexico. There are also numerous items on the shelves here that I am not at all familiar with.
I have taken a few Mexican cooking classes here in Mazatlan. I have become good friends with Sofia, a young woman in her twenties, who teaches these classes and I help her translate the recipes from Spanish into English. This afternoon we met with a panadera (a baker) who shared with us the art of making Rosca de Reyes, a traditional sweet bread associated with Dia de Reyes ( Three Kings Day) here in Mexico. Three Kings Day is celebrated on January 6th, twelve days after Christmas. It is also known as Epiphany and commemorates the day that the three wise men visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.
Rosca de Reyes is in the shape of a wreath which symbolizes a crown. The candied fruit are the jewels on the crown. Inside the bread is hidden a small figurine of the baby Jesus. When the bread is served, each guest cuts a slice. Whoever finds the baby Jesus is the host of a party on February 2nd and must supply the tamales. This person is also the honorary godparent of the baby Jesus and must take a doll to the church to be blessed on that day, also known as Dia de la Candelaria or Candlemas. When I lived in Tlaquepaque, the godparents also gave out baskets of candy to people as they made their way down the street to the church. And of course there was loud music as well.
Rosca de Reyes takes a while to prepare as the dough requires two risings. The intricate decoration on the top is comprised of a sugar paste, ribbons of candied fruit, nuts, prunes, dates and figs. Some bakers also prepare a filling of coconut, nuts, raisins, candied fruit, cinnamon and sugar.
Tomorrow morning we will actually prepare this delicious bread in a class. And as a bonus, it will be accompanied by hot chocolate as is customary here in Mexico. Yum yum!!!!!