Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Three Kings arrived a little late...with the Rosca de Reyes!

The New Year continues on. For those who know the Christian Christmas story, January 6th, sometimes called little Christmas is the day the three kings visited the newborn child.  This is also the day of twelve drummers drumming, that is the twelfth and last day of Christmas. It is also called Epiphany.  On this date the Rosca de Reyes is traditionally served.  This is a king's cake similar to the one for Mardi Gras. From Wikipedia: Although the name indicates that it should be round, the “rosca de reyes” generally has an oval shape due to the need to make cakes larger than 30 cm across for larger parties. Recipes vary from country to country. For decoration, fig fruit, quinces, cherries or dried and candied fruits are used.
Time for a slightly delayed Rosca de Reyes!
The cake is consumed as part of the celebration of Epiphany or the "Día de Reyes" (literally "Kings' Day"), which commemorates the arrival of the three Magi or Wise Men. In most of Spain, Spanish America, and sometimes, Hispanic communities in the United States, this is the day when children traditionally get presents, which are attributed to the Three Wise Men (and not Santa Claus or Father Christmas). This actually makes more sense.
Historic representation of the Three Kings

And there they are on the box of the Rosca!

Similar to the Mardi Gras cake,  a small baby figurine is placed inside the cake. The tradition of placing this figurine, representative of the Christ Child, in the cake is very old. The baby Jesus hidden in the bread represents the flight of the Holy Family, fleeing from King Herod's evil plan to kill all babies that could be the prophesied messiah. (Did you know that?) Whoever finds the baby Jesus figurine is blessed and must take the figurine to the nearest church on February 2, Candlemas Day (Día de la Candelaria). We are told they are also supposed to throw a party in celebration.
Typically oval shape hiding a baby!
  I'm telling you all this because today we had a slightly delayed Rosca de Reyes for cake hour. This was brought back from Los Angeles by one or our newest PhDs who was visiting her family.  As this is part of her heritage she thoughtfully decided to share it all with us.  How very nice! So she schlepped back a large box from the San Antonio Bakery in Compton, California, a bakery that she has patronized with her family.
It's from my family bakery!
Proud of her bakery's treat!
We were happy to share in this tradition and enjoyed having the cake.  Despite the sugary topping, the cake itself was more of a slightly sweetened bread. It was a bit on the dry side which makes it good to go with coffee or tea.
Looks more like bread and tasted that way too!
The search for the babies is on. Each cuts his own!
At this particular bakery you can tell them how many of the babies you want added to the cake.  Our colleague asked them to include three.  In order to give everyone a shot at finding the baby each person has to cut their own piece.  We followed through on this and over the course of time we did indeed find three little pink babies in the cake. 
First cut and a bay is almost decapitated!

Our first baby finder. Does she look familiar?

Baby finder number 2.

A slight cut across the behind and the baby sticks to the knife.

The baby chills with a piece of cake.

It's getting pretty chopped up though there is another out there.
A final cut yields the missing child!
Look what I found!
The proud parent!

No more babies and just about gone.
No baby for me????
We wonder if this means we will be getting three parties on February 2nd?  Stay tuned!!
You got the babies now get to work on those parties!

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