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Rosca de Reyes on a cooling rack

Rosca de Reyes: Three Kings Bread

  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
  • Yield: 12 slices 1x


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.



For the Dough

  • 4 1/8 cups bread flour (500g)
  • 3 teaspoons fast-action yeast (10g)
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt (10g)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (175g)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100g)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup whole milk (78 ml)
  • 4 teaspoons orange extract (35 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest

For the Decoration Paste

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (58g)
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar (100g)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (60g)
  • 1 egg yolk

For the Decoration

  • 1 large egg, for egg wash
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, for sprinkling
  • 4 red glace cherries (20g)
  • 4 green glace cherries (20g)
  • 6 narrow slices of guava paste (75g)


Make the Dough (30 min + 1 1/2 hrs proving)

  1. Mix dry ingredients. 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.
  2. Add wet ingredients. 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 dough.
  3. Knead. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10-15 minutes, until the dough 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.
  4. Prove. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it’s nearly doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Shaping the Rosca (20 min + 45 min proving)

  1. Shape. Punch the dough down, then shape it into a circle. Use floured fingers to poke a hole in the center and shape the dough into a ring shape.
  2. Prove. 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.
  3. Make the decoration paste. While the bread 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 dough into a disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then chill for 20-30 minutes to firm up the dough.
  4. Shape into strips. Divide the paste into six equal pieces, then shape each piece into a rectangular strip.  You’ll use these to decorate the bread later.

Decorate & Bake the Rosca (10 min + 20 min baking)

  1. Preheat.  Set the oven to 400 F about 10-15 minutes before the bread is done proving.
  2. Decorate. Once the dough is springy to the touch, brush it with beaten egg and arrange the cherries, guava paste strips, and paste strips on the dough.  Sprinkle with the sugar.
  3. Bake. 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.
  4. Cool. Let the bread 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.
  5. Serve. 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.
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: rosca de reyes recipe, three kings bread