January the 6th is a special day in Mexico. It is known as 'El Dia de Reyes' (Three Kings Day). The date marks the culmination of the twelve days of Christmas and commemorates the three wise men who brought gifts to baby Jesus. This holiday is also known by the name of the Epiphany.
Three Kings Day remains an important holiday for Mexico and other Latin countries. Besides the gift-giving there is also a cake specific to this holiday. Known as 'Rosca de Reyes' (King's Cake), this cake has so much meaning. Round or oval in shape to signify a king's crown - it even holds a special surprise. Baked inside is a small baby and a dry bean. He is hidden to symbolize how in life, the birth of baby Jesus needed to remain secret. Whoever finds the baby is suppose to give the upcoming party for 'Dia de la Candelaria', (this is the day Mary presented baby Jesus to the temple and traditionally the day candles are blessed in the Catholic Church - it falls on February 2nd). Some say whoever finds the baby will have good luck and be king for the day :) Whoever finds the dry bean will have to pay - host the party.
The cake - The Rosca de Reyes is an oval sweetbread, decorated with candied fruit. I have seen them with filling and without, with nuts, no nuts. It really is up to the baker. I think the tradition of sharing and celebrating is why I wanted to make this little cake.This is my interpretation - kinda like cinnamon roll flavor!
16 oz butter
1 lb powdered sugar
4 c cake flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp gr aniseed (I didn't used aniseed)
2 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
dried bean and plastic baby
In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and powdered sugar. Add eggs and beat again until light and fluffy. Combine dry ingredients, except nuts.Gradually add dry ingredients and vanilla to creamed mixture. Lay pecans and cheeries on bottom of lightly greased pan. Gently pour batter into pan and bake at 350º for 55 minutes or until pick comes out clean and cake springs back to the touch. Cool 10 minutes, turn cake out onto wire rack to cool. Insert dry bean and baby from the underside of cake when cooled. While cake is cooling, melt brown sugar in pan over low heat. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Flip over and pour warm syrup over freshly baked cooled cake.