Christmas is behind us, but at our home, we are still waiting for one of our favorite holidays: El Día de Los Reyes Magos or Three Kings Day. Children receive gifts from the Three Magi on this day, and families get together and eat Rosca de Reyes. Rosca de Reyes or Roscón de Reyes is a sweet bread with caramelized fruit eaten during this holiday. Dia de Reyes is an important holiday and part of Christmas traditions in Guatemala. In this post, you will find a super easy recipe for Rosca de Reyes buns you can bake with your kids. It is a fun and delicious twist on a traditional dessert full of history and seasonal flavors.
On January 6th, kids around the globe wake up early to open presents. Sounds weird? Not everybody celebrates Christmas with Santa Claus as the primary gift bearer. In many countries, El Día de Reyes or Three Kings Day is when the traditional “morning of the opening of gifts” occurs. And the food is always a big part of this Christian holiday. Enter the Rosca de Reyes buns!
I love Rosca de Reyes, but I usually do not have the time to make bread. Plus, the whole process of baking bread from scratch seems a bit daunting to me. So, I decided to take a few shortcuts and came up with a clever hack for making Rosca de Reyes buns that only takes a few minutes!
What is a Rosca de Reyes?
Rosca de Reyes or Roscón de Reyes (Kings’ wreath or Three Kings bread) is a sweet bread cooked especially for Three Kings Day on January 6th, precisely 12 days after Christmas. It usually has candied fruit on top, drizzled with white icing, and has a figurine of baby Jesus stuffed inside. I will explain later about this unique tradition; be careful not to swallow the non-edible little doll!
This ornate cake symbolizes the gifts given to baby Jesus by the Three Wise men on Epiphany Eve. The bun has the shape of a wreath, symbolizing the crown of King Herod from whom Mary and Joseph were trying to hide baby Jesus. The candied fruit represents the jewels on the crown, and the figurine inside the bun represents the infant Jesus in hiding.
What happens if you get baby Jesus in the Rosca?
The person who finds the baby Jesus must cook tamales for everyone on Día de la Candelaria on February 2nd. For those not familiar with this Kings Day tradition, it may sound a little strange to put a figurine, usually made of ceramic or plastic, inside bread. But as you can see, everything about this bejeweled Roscón has a religious meaning.
My family believed that the one who gets the doll would have a lucky year. The finder of the figurine becomes an “honorary” godparent to baby Jesus and must host the party on Candelaria Day. This day commemorates the purification of the Virgin Mary 40 days after the birth of baby Jesus when he was taken to the temple to be blessed.
Eating Roscón de Reyes is a tradition passed down from Spain to Mexico and the rest of Latin America. The tamalada party on February 2nd is a bonus for us who love to get together with family and eat delicious Guatemalan food before the holiday season is finally over.
What is Rosca de Reyes Typically Made Of?
The traditional Three Kings bread has many ingredients similar to those used when making sweet bread. You typically use all-purpose flour, yeast, eggs, sugar, butter, and more. However, it is a longer process, so people don’t usually bake their own Rosca bread. Instead, they order it from their local bakery days in advance.
But living in Florida, it is harder to find a bakery that makes this delicious treat. That’s why I decided to make an easy Rosca de Reyes Bun recipe I could do with my kids. So I can share a longstanding family tradition while teaching my kids about their Latin roots. These buns are easy to make and taste like a Rosca de Reyes. And the best part, having this holiday dessert ready in minutes!
Easy Rosca de Reyes Buns Recipe:
For the buns:
- Cooking spray
- Three cans of Pillsbury crescent rolls
- 2 tablespoons of orange zest
- Candied fruit
- 1 tablespoon of water
- 1 egg
- Sliced almonds
For the icing
- 1 cup of powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 2 tablespoons of milk, plus more to thin
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
How to Make Rosca de Reyes Buns:
- Preheat the oven to 350℉. Lightly coat the muffin pan with cooking spray; set aside.
- Open a can of rolls, spread it out on a cutting board, and split it into triangles.
- Sprinkle it with sugar and orange zest.
- Place candied fruit along the short side of the triangle. Roll the dough over the fruit and keep rolling toward the tip of the triangle. Then, tuck the ends in to make a bun and place in the muffin pan. Repeat with remaining crescent dough.
- Add two tablespoons of water to the egg and mix well to create an egg wash. Brush egg wash on the dough and decorate with almonds and candied fruit.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes, until golden. Remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.
- When the buns cool down, make the icing. Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water to make a smooth icing. Drizzle over the Rosca de Reyes muffins and serve.
Make-Ahead of Time
This recipe for Rosca de Reyes is so easy that you can make it in minutes! I love sharing recipes that are delicious and simplify my somewhat hectic life. And when I find a recipe that is easy to make and helps keep traditions alive, I know that it’s a keeper!
You can make this recipe a few days in advance too. But I like having fresh-from-the-oven buns the kids love to decorate and nibble on while sharing stories from my childhood in Guatemala. To help my kids and other kids learn more about el Dia de Reyes Traditions, I created some Dia de Reyes Coloring Pages. These are great to keep kids entertained and help them learn more about the Tree Magi and this beautiful Guatemalan holiday tradition.
This easy and quick-to-make Roscón de Reyes recipe is a twist on the traditional Three Kings bread and has no doll inside. Nevertheless, it is a fun and delicious way to keep my family’s traditions alive!
What do you eat with Rosca de Reyes With?
Since it is a sweet bread, people usually serve it with hot chocolate or coffee. I consider Día de Reyes the closing event to all the Christmas celebrations, so I like to make a big deal out of this longstanding family tradition.
You could say it is my excuse to cook the best Guatemalan food one last time before Christmas is officially over. So, I serve this delicious Rosca de Reyes with a delicious tamal colorado (I intentionally have leftovers from Nochebuena) and a steaming cup of ponche de frutas. It is the perfect ending to this magical time!
Traditional Guatemalan Recipes to enjoy during the holidays:
- Tamales Colorados: Made with corn masa and a chicken or pork filling wrapped in fresh banana leaves, this Guatemalan food is based on my grandmother’s recipe. I have come up with the best recipe for Guatemalan tamales with some personal tweaks, including easy step-by-step instructions.
- Chuchitos Guatemaltecos: Learn how to make these delicious traditional tamales at home! A smaller type of Guatemalan tamal is filled with pork or chicken and a tomato-based recado or sauce and wrapped in corn husks.
- Ponche de Frutas Navideño: A hot drink traditionally served during the holiday season. It is made with different fruits such as pineapples, plums, apples, and many more.
- Jocotes en Miel: A traditional Guatemalan food commonly served around the Day of the Dead celebrations. These juicy jocotes (hog plums) are cooked in a bubbling sweet syrup and heavenly spices.
- Atol de Elote: Corn atole is a hot drink of fresh corn. This traditional drink has its origin in the Mayan culture, perfect for cold weather, posadas, and Christmas time.
On Día de Reyes, my kids cannot wait until they get their presents from Melchor, Gaspar, and Balthazar. Then, we will leave a Rosca de Reyes bun for the Magi and mild grass for the camels. We usually sit down and do different Three Kings Day crafts and activities the day before. At the same time, we wait for these deliciously easy Rosca de Reyes buns to bake. So, tell me in the comments below, how do you celebrate Día de Reyes?
For the buns:
For the icing
Sprinkle it with sugar and orange zest.