You’ve probably seen them in supermarkets or in patisserie windows but have never actually wondered what they were? The “Roscón de Reyes” (Kings Cake) is a traditional cake which is consumed by the Spanish on – and around – 3 Kings day (6th January).
Shaped like a large crown (or doughnut, it depends on how you look at it!) this tasty cake is covered with crystallized fruit and sugar. You can eat it plain (with coffee or hot chocolate) or – my preferred option – have it filled with cream! You can usually choose between plain cream, chocolate flavoured cream or both!!!
By now you’re probably dying to rush out and buy one; am I right? You can find them in all bakeries and patisseries and they are even available in supermarkets – I personally recommend the cream and chocolate “Roscón” from Mercadona; tastes great and very reasonably priced!
Why is it a tradition?
There’s a few theories out there; however, none of them have anything to do with the 3 kings! Some say the cake dates from as far back as Roman times and others argue that we have our French neighbours to thank for this sweet treat. I don’t think it really matters; the important thing is that it is a tradition throughout Spain, a tasty one at that!
The “Roscón de Reyes” is also well known for the small trinket which is hidden inside. Many years ago, bakers would hide a small dried kidney bean inside; the lucky person who found the bean would have the honour of paying for the whole cake!
Nowadays, its rare to find Roscones with beans inside. Times are-a-changing and the bean has been replaced by ceramic or plastic figures and even the significance has changed…..now, if you find the prize, you no longer have to pay for the whole cake (great relief!), instead, you are blessed with good luck for the whole year (start buying those lottery tickets!).
If you are in one of the bigger cities like Madrid or Barcelona, you might want to look out for bakers who are using creative marketing techniques to sell more Roscones: Many have started advertising the fact that one of their “Roscones de Navidad” doesn’t contain a plastic figure…..it contains a 500 Euro bill!!! Now there’s a nice gift for 3 kings 🙂