Merienda de Reyes – a tea party for kings

After a very English Christmas spent among mince pies, carols, crackers and the like, it was time for a bit of Mexican tradition. Today we celebrated ‘Dia de Los Reyes’ with a traditional tea party for a few friends and their children.

In preparation, yesterday S helped me make our very own Rosca de Reyes, a ring-shaped sweet bread/cake with dried fruit and marzipan.  Although the dough didn’t rise much and the cake was a lot more solid that in should have been.. it was still pretty tasty.

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We planned to serve the cake with Ibarra Mexican hot chocolate.. unfortunately when we got the packet out it has expired… exactly on S’s birth date… spooky!  Instead we made Green & Blacks hot chocolate adding a cinnamon stick and nutmeg and of course, mixing it up with our wooden molinillo.

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 Traditional roscas have a small plastic figurine of baby Jesus hidden in the cake.  However L was unable to find a baby trinket returning instead with a plastic snake, crocodile and frog!  As my rosca dough didn’t rise much, the resulting cake was a lot smaller than he imagined, and there was, unfortunately, no room for his animals.  Instead, remembering the sixpence tradition, I boiled up a 5p piece and added it to the cake.

Tradition dictates that the person who finds the baby Jesus has to host a party on 2nd February for Dia de La Candelaria.  We didn’t think we could put upon our guests to complete this part of the tradition, however.  Although we still wanted to do something to symbolise the finding of the figure (or 5p piece in our case).  I had read that in France there is a similar tradition where the person who finds the trinket in the Galette de Rois is crowned ‘King for the Day’.  I decided to adapt this French tradition for our Mexican rosca with a sixpense… very multicultural and quickly fashioned a crown to decorate our rosca. Unfortunately the piece with the 5p wasn’t found by our guests, but by me later on that evening!  Never mind, it is a lovely crown –  I shall keep it for the Dia de Los Reyes event next week with La Casita, the group for Spanish speaking families in Bristol.

In future years I hope to build on my baking skills and hone our rosca recipe. It took the recipe from spanglishbaby.com but adapted it to UK ingredients (such as using raisins instead of candied pineapple).  We may also incorporate other Dia de Reyes traditions that mirror ours such as leaving out hay for the camels and hoping for presents from the three kings.

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