While most of the world has already begun packing up their trees and ornaments now, the Spaniards continue with more festivities.
On the Twelfth Night, January 5th, towns all over Spain have floats and parades waiting for the arrival from Bethlehem, Los Reyes Magos (The Three Kings). The Three Kings, Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar, arrive on camels at the end of the parade, throwing out sweets to all the viewers.
On January 6th, considered the last day of the Christmas season, residents celebrate the Epiphany Feast, also known as Three Kings Day. In Spain, Mexico and other Latin countries, January 6th is the long-awaited day when children receive their presents left by the Kings when they awaken.
It is traditional to serve "Roscón de Los Reyes" for breakfast while the children are opening their gifts.
"Roscón de Los Reyes" is a sizeable ring-shaped cake decorated with candied fruits; symbolic of the emeralds and rubies that adorned the Three Kings' robes. In the middle of the cake sits a gold foil cardboard crown. Hidden within the pastry is porcelain or plastic figurine of a baby to represent Jesus.
Whoever finds the baby gets to wear the crown and is declared "King" or "Queen" for the day. It some areas, it also means the person is designated to bring the next year's "Roscón de Los Reyes."
Add this pastry serving 8 to the breakfast table. Make it the day before and bake it as a yearly tradition in your household.
1/4 cup yeast
4 tablespoons warm milk
4 cups flour
3 whole eggs - 1 egg, separated
1 teaspoon salt
6 tbsp sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 tablespoon orange flower water (substitute concentrated orange juice)
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup almonds, blanched, skinned and slivered
3/ 4 cups candled fruit and orange peel for decoration
Whip cream - optional
A paper gold crown to place in after cake is baked
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk with 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Add 1 cup of the flour and mix, and cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm place until its size doubles.
Put the remaining flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.
Beat the eggs together with the egg yolk and pour into the flour with the salt, rum, orange juice and the rest of the sugar. Mix well by hand.
Add the yeast dough and mix very well until the dough is no longer sticky, continually adding flour as necessary.
Divide the butter into 4 parts and sprinkle it with flour.
Divide the dough into 4 parts.
On a lightly floured board work a piece of butter into each of the pieces of dough, then knead them together until exceptionally smooth and elastic.
Butter the sides of a bowl. Put the ball of dough in the bowl, turning it to coat the outside of the dough lightly with butter.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let set in a warm area for approximately one hour.
Punch the dough down, turn it over onto the board and knead again.
Insert the figurine into the dough (wrap it in aluminium foil if it is plastic). Form the dough into one or two balls and flatten them slightly.
Shape into a large ring. Insert a finger into the centre and very gently ease the dough outward to create a hole in the centre.
Stuff the hole with crumpled foil and place in a buttered oval tin or set the rings in lightly buttered ring moulds.
Cover and set in a warm place to rise once more. The dough will not double in bulk but will rise substantially during baking.
Lightly beat the remaining egg white and brush on the cake.
Sprinkle on the slivered almonds and stud with pieces of candied fruit and dust lightly with sugar.
Bake in a preheats medium-hot oven (350-375 °F or 180-190 °C) until nicely browned, about 35 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
For an extra treat, split the cake in two (like two pieces of bread). Lift the top off and add whip cream and place the top back on before serving.
After cooling, remember to place the crown on the hole.