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rosca de reyes on a wire cooling rack
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Rosca de Reyes: Three Kings Bread

Rosca de Reyes, or Three Kings Bread, is a special yeast bread served on Epiphany in Mexico and Spain.  This easy recipe shows you exactly how to make and decorate this traditional Rosca de Reyes for your Epiphany party.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 12 slices
Calories: 422kcal


For the Dough

  • 4 ⅛ cups bread flour
  • 3 teaspoons fast-action yeast
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • cup whole milk
  • 4 teaspoons orange extract
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest

For the Decoration Paste

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg yolk

For the Decoration


Make the Dough

  • Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl, then mix each one in with your finger.
  • Add the sugar, unsalted butter, eggs, orange zest, orange extract, and some of the warm milk. Mix until a dough forms, then gradually add the rest of the milk to get a soft, slightly sticky texture.
  • Knead it on a lightly floured surface for 10-15 minutes, until it is smooth and no longer as sticky. It should pass the windowpane test.  This means you can stretch a lump of the dough thin enough to see the light through it.
  • Let the dough rise in a warm place until it’s nearly doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Shape the Rosca

  • Punch the dough down, then shape it into a circle. Use floured fingers to poke a hole in the center and shape into a ring.
  • Place the ring on a large parchment-lined cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to prove in a warm place until springy to the touch, about 45 minutes.
  • While the Rosca is proving, beat the softened butter and sifted icing sugar together until smooth. Add the flour and egg yolk and beat until a paste forms.  Shape the mixture into a disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then chill for 20-30 minutes.
  • Divide the paste into six equal pieces, then shape each piece into a rectangular strip.  You’ll use these to decorate the Rosca later.

Decorate & Bake

  • Set the oven to 400°F about 10-15 minutes before the Rosca is done proving.
  • Once the dough is springy to the touch, brush it with beaten egg and arrange the cherries, guava paste strips, and paste strips on top.  Sprinkle with the sugar.
  • Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 375°F and bake for another 10  minutes, until golden brown. The bread should have an internal temperature of 190°F on a meat thermometer.
  • Let the Rosca cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then transfer on a wire rack to cool completely, about 45 minutes.  Insert the plastic baby from the bottom of the rosca once it has cooled.
  • Let each guest cut their own slice.  Enjoy with Abuelita, a type of Mexican hot chocolate.


  • Use bread flour.  All-purpose flour will not make the high-rising, fluffy rosca we want.
  • Make the hole in the middle bigger than you think is needed.  The dough will expand as it rises.
  • Change up the decorations as desired.  Any combination of cherries, guava paste, sliced almonds, citrus peel, or figs is lovely.
  • Be careful not to overbake.  It's done when it has an internal temperature of 190°F.
  • Leftovers?  Slice, seal in a freezer bag, and freeze for up to 1 month.  Defrost in the microwave.


Calories: 422kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 431mg | Potassium: 122mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 619IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg