Sunday was Ephiphany, or Three Kings Day, the part of the Christmas season when we celebrate the three kings, (or magi, or wise men), visiting the baby Jesus and bringing him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Epiphany is traditionally celebrated on January 6th, but here in the U.S. it gets moved to the Sunday closest to the the 6th.
In Mexico, this is the traditional day to exchange gifts, rather than Christmas day, which makes sense since it is the day Jesus received his gifts! It is also a tradition to make three kings cake, which usually has a prize hidden inside. Whoever gets the prize in their piece of cake is supposed to host a party on Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, and provide the tamales and atole! Candlemas is on February 2nd. My great aunt on my Mexican side, whom we simply refer to as "Tia," (aunt in Spanish), gave me this recipe for three kings cake - rosca de reyes. It is less like a traditional American cake and more like a sweet egg-y bread which is filled with fruit, similar to the German stollen or the Italian panettone.
The original recipe called for preserved fruit that you typically find in fruit cake; candied cherries, diced orange peel and citron. I tried using the citron once and wasn't too pleased, so I replaced it with diced dried pineapple this time. I also decided to replace the candied cherries with dried cherries - also much tastier. Of course I'm sure you could add in any dried fruit that you would like!
Rosca de Reyes (Mexican Three Kings Cake)
1 pkg yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs plus three egg yolks
1/2 cup (1 stick) soft butter
2 cups flour
100 grams dried cherries
100 grams diced orange peel
100 grams diced dried pineapple (the 100 grams things is what the recipe says, but I just eyeball it!)
Stir the yeast and lukewarm water together -set aside.
Mix together the salt, sugar, eggs and butter. Add the yeast mixture.
Add in the flour and mix thoroughly. Knead at least 6 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise for at least 1 hour.
Dust the dough with flour and mix the fruit the fruit into the dough. This is best done by hand.
Place on an ungreased baking sheet and form a ring. Add a porcelain prize or coin wrapped in wax paper. Let rise for 30 minutes.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Drizzle a mixture of powdered sugar and cream over the cake while it is still warm.
Cool and slice. Enjoy!