Three Kings Bread Recipe

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My family enjoys Three Kings Bread, also known as a Rosca de Reyes in Spanish, every year on Three Kings Day. But we also enjoy it on the days leading up to the big day as well as for a few days afterward, too.

Rosca de reyes

That just shows you how much we like it. This year I decided to make it at home instead of buying it. So I wanted to share my orange-flavored Three Kings Bread recipe with you today.

You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make, even if it looks a little fancy. Try it!

Three Kings Day or Día de Reyes

Three Kings Day is one of our favorite holidays and we prepare for it days ahead of time in order to have everything ready.

Our kids love the holiday, of course, because they get both holiday gifts and a generous slice of Three Kings Bread as well. In fact, it’s the traditional day children receive gifts in Mexico and other countries as well, like Italy.

January 6th is the official Three Kings Day, but since we like the celebration so much we actually eat the Rosca de Reyes on both the 5th and the 6th of January.

And as if that weren’t enough, we share it throughout the week after Three Kings Day, too! We never miss a chance to get together for “la rosca” with family, neighbors, folks from church, schoolmates, you get the idea.

Once you try it dipped in Mexican Hot Chocolate, you’ll want to do it over and over again, too.

RELATED POST: The Symbolism of the Rosca de Reyes 

Homemade

Most years, we go to the bakery to buy a rosca, but this year I decided to make it myself and serve it homemade. It turned out so beautifully, I’m encouraged to make it myself from now on.

The process is simple, but like any other bread recipe, it just requires patience and time.

Decorating the Rosca de Reyes

Three Kings Bread can be made with different flavorings and with a variety of toppings. Orange always tastes great in this bread, so that’s really the only reason I chose it.

One of our friends made a lovely quince paste, so I used it to decorate the rosca, along with cherries and slices of dried fruit.

I recommend reading the entire recipe once through before getting started. It will help the process go smoothly.

RELATED POST: Three Kings Cupcakes with Candied Fruit

Orange Three Kings Bread Recipe (Rosca de Reyes)

Prep time 10 minutes – Start to finish 4.5 hours – Includes 2.5 resting time

Ingredients

For the Bread

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 (7 gr) active yeast packet
  • 3/4 cup (200gr) + 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups flour (450-500 gr) + a little more to dust working space
  • 1/2 (3gr) teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (100 gr or 1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 3 (130 ml) eggs
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or canola to oil bowl

For Decoration

  • 1/2 cup (60gr) confectioner sugar
  • 1/2 cup (50 gr) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup flour (60 gr), plus 1-2 tablespoons if needed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • Cherries, dried fruit, nuts, etc.

Utensils

Buy what you need with the help of these affiliate links.

An important note. This recipe is made without a mixer since not all houses have one. However, if you have a mixer with a dough hook, use it with confidence. It will save you time and effort.

Step by Step Instructions

Activate the yeast

Mix yeast, water, and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a bowl. Set aside in a warm place for 15-20 minutes or until it’s foamy.

Make the dough

On a flat surface, create a well in the flour, pour the salt around on the outside of the “well wall.” Pour the warm milk into the center and with your hands or a fork begin to mix.

If you are using the mixer, mix the flour and salt a little before adding the milk.

Tip for kneading bread: I learned this from my husband. Use just one hand to mix the ingredients, keep your other hand clean for adding more flour, or using the bread scrapper to integrate into the dough.

When the yeast mixture has doubled in volume add to the dough and keep kneading.

Add the eggs and continue kneading until all the ingredients are combined. You will have a lumpy dough, a bit coarse, and if you pull it, it breaks easily.

Integrate the sugar little by little, this will make the dough begin to loosen and moisten. When everything is integrated, you will have a sticky dough and will feel the grains of sugar.

It is time to start adding the butter. Integrate little by little. You will see that the dough changes, it will become smoother and extremely sticky in your hands and on the work surface.

Add the orange zest and continue kneading and kneading. You will notice that the dough will change, this is due to the development of gluten.

The dough should be sticky and moist and will begin to get springy.

Keep kneading, depending on the weather and humidity you may need to add a little more flour. You can do it, but do it teaspoon by teaspoon, kneading in between.

Don’t add too much at once because this could dry out the dough. You will see how the dough is compacting and little by little it is detaching from your hands.

How do I know when the dough is ready?

When taking a ball of dough you can stretch it like forming a window and the dough does not break easily.

This will take about 20-25 minutes, be patient, sometimes it feels like the dough will never change, but it will. I ended up using 1/2 cup more flour for a total of 4 cups.

Bread reacts to the weather and altitude so it will probably be different for you.

Rest the dough

Oil a large glass bowl and place the dough inside. Oil the top of the dough as well and cover with plastic or a kitchen towel.

Tip for resting the dough: I turn my oven on to the lowest temperature for about a minute, turn it off and check that the temperature is 100°F (37°) or less. In this warm environment I let my dough grow.

Set aside in a warm place, free of drafts, until the dough doubles in size. Depending on the weather this may take 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Be patient as the yeast works its magic. Let it rise, it will give the bread a deeper flavor.

Tip: Take a photo of the dough before resting and then another after the time the recipe says it should take. Compare them, this will help you see if it has doubled in size.

While it is resting, prepare the decorations. Mix sugar, butter, and flour to form a paste. Cover with plastic and put it in the fridge. Cut dried fruit in strips, dry out cherries with a paper towel.

Make the rosca

Once the dough has doubled in size, place it on a floured surface and gently knead it for a few seconds to remove the gas that has formed in the fermentation.

With a rolling pin, form a long rectangle, making sure it is the same thickness. Then take one of the longer edges and start rolling the dough, you will end up with a long strip.

Grease or place parchment paper on a large baking sheet and carefully place the strip of dough on top. Take one of the ends of the dough and form a “hole,” take the other end and push the dough until both ends are “glued” together to form the wreath.

Brush the mixture of egg yolk and milk on the dough to give it a nice egg wash. This will give it a nice, shiny, brown finish during baking.

Take the sugar-flour-butter mixture and divide it into 6 pieces. Take one of the pieces (called a “costrón” in Spanish), make a flat oval and place it on top of the bread starting on top of the union of the dough to “hide it,” repeat with the other 5 pieces.

Sprinkle sugar on top of the “costrones“, and decorate the bread with the cherries and candied fruit.

Cover with plastic and let it rest for 45 minutes in a warm place and let it rise again. See the picture below.

And Bake!

Twenty minutes before the end of the 45 minutes of resting, pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) and bake for 30-45 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.

Transfer to a rack to cool down.

Once the bread is completely cooled, turn it over and introduce the plastic dolls randomly, if you choose. (Do this at your own risk, of course). To learn more about the dolls and the meaning behind the bread, please see my post on the symbolism of the rosca de reyes.

Serve to your family and friends with Mexican hot chocolate, atole, or Mexican ponche.

¡Felíz Día de Reyes!

Print the Three Kings Bread Recipe

Rosca de reyes
5 from 1 vote

Orange Three Kings Bread Recipe (Rosca de Reyes)

An easy tutorial to learn how to make Rosca de Reyes with orange flavor.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 50 mins
Resting Time2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time4 hrs 30 mins

Ingredients

For the Bread

  • 1 (7 gm) active yeast packet
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup sugar + 1 teaspoon 
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups flour + a little more to dust working space
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons butter softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or canola to oil bowl

For Decoration

  • 1/2 cup confectioner sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup flour plus 1-2 tablespoons if needed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • Cherries, dried fruit, nuts, etc.

Utensilios

  • 1 big baking sheet
  • Food grade plastic wrap
  • A kitchen brush
  • 1 cooling rack
  • 1 bread scraper
  • Plastic dolls for Rosca de Reyes (optional)

Instructions

Step by Step Instructions

  • Mix yeast, water, and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a bowl. Set aside in a warm place for 15-20 minutes or until it’s foamy.

Make the dough

  • On a flat surface, create a well in the flour, pour the salt around on the outside of the "well wall." Pour the warm milk into the center and with your hands or a fork begin to mix.
  • If you are using the mixer, mix the flour and salt a little before adding the milk.
  • When the yeast mixture has doubled in volume add to the dough and keep kneading.
  • Add the eggs and continue kneading until all the ingredients are combined. You will have a lumpy dough, a bit coarse, and if you pull it, it breaks easily. Integrate the sugar little by little, this will make the dough begin to loosen and moisten. When everything is integrated, you will have a sticky dough and will feel the grains of sugar.
  • It is time to start adding the butter. Integrate little by little. You will see that the dough changes, it will become smoother and extremely sticky in your hands and on the work surface. Add the orange zest and continue kneading and kneading. You will notice that the dough will change, this is due to the development of gluten. The dough should be sticky and moist and will begin to get springy.
  • Keep kneading, depending on the weather and humidity you may need to add a little more flour. You can do it, but do it teaspoon by teaspoon, kneading in between. Don’t add too much at once because this could dry out the dough. You will see how the dough is compacting and little by little it is detaching from your hands.
  • You'll know the dough is ready when taking a ball of dough you can stretch it like forming a window and the dough does not break easily. This will take about 20-25 minutes, be patient, sometimes it feels like the dough will never change, but it will. I ended up using 1/2 cup more flour for a total of 4 cups. Bread reacts to the weather and altitude so it will probably be different for you.

Rest the dough

  • Oil a large glass bowl and place the dough inside. Oil the top of the dough as well and cover with plastic or a kitchen towel.
  • Set aside in a warm place free of drafts, until dough doubles in size, depending on the weather this may take 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Be patient as the yeast works its magic, let it rise, it will bring a deeper flavor.
  • While it is resting, prepare the decorations. Mix sugar, butter, and flour to form a paste. Cover with plastic and put it in the fridge. Cut dried fruit in strips, dry out cherries with a paper towel.

Make the rosca

  • Once the dough has doubled in size, place it on a floured surface and gently knead it for a few seconds to remove the gas that has formed in the fermentation. With a rolling pin, form a long rectangle, making sure it is the same thickness. Then take one of the longer edges and start rolling the dough, you will end up with a long strip.
  • Grease or place parchment paper on a large baking sheet and carefully place the strip of dough on top. Take one of the ends of the dough and form a “hole,” take the other end and push the dough until both ends are “glued” together to form the wreath.
  • Push the dough until both ends are “glued” together.
  • Brush the mixture of egg yolk and milk on the dough to give it a nice egg wash. This will give it a nice, shiny, brown finish during baking.
  • Take the sugar-flour-butter mix and divide it into 6 pieces. Take one of the pieces (called a “costrón” in Spanish), make a flat oval and place it on top of the bread starting on top of the union of the dough to “hide it,” repeat with the other 5 pieces.
  • Sprinkle sugar on top of the "costrones", and decorate the bread with the cherries and candied fruit. Cover with plastic and let it rest for 45 minutes in a warm place and let it rise again. See the picture below.

And Bake!

  • Twenty minutes before the end of the 45 minutes of resting, pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) and bake for 30-45 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.
  • Transfer to a rack to cool down.
  • Once the bread is completely cooled, turn it over and introduce the plastic dolls randomly, if you choose. (Do this at your own risk, of course). To learn more about the dolls and the meaning behind the bread, please see my post on the symbolism of the rosca de reyes.
  • Serve to your family and friends with Mexican hot chocolate, atole, or Mexican ponche.
Course: Breads
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Rosca de Reyes, Three Kings Day
Author: Silvia

Notes

An important note. This recipe is made without a mixer, since not all houses have one. However, if you have a mixer with a dough hook, use it with confidence. It will save you time and effort.
Tip for kneading: I learned this from my husband. Use just one hand to mix the ingredients, keep your other hand clean for adding more flour, or using the bread scrapper to integrate into the dough.
Tip for resting the dough: I turn my oven on to the lowest temperature for about a minute, turn it off and check that the temperature is 100°F (37°) or less. In this warm environment I let my dough grow.
Tip: Take a photo of the dough before resting and then another after the time the recipe says it should take. Compare them, this will help you see if it has doubled in size.

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Paulis

i was looking everywhere for a recipe for Three Kings bread!! This one was amazing and so easy to follow each step. Defined a great Three Kings rosca to make with the kiddos again!

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