From January 4 to 7, the bakers in the village turn their attention to creating roscas de reyes, a traditional sweet bread adorned with conchas, candied figs, nopal cactus and red pepper strips. For three or four days, there will be no other bread to buy. We get our fill of this luscious cake-like treat.
Eloisa's rich, yeasty Rosca de Reyes
We are lucky. Tenemos muchos milagros. At Las Granadas Bed & Breakfast, Eloisa bakes Rosca de Reyes in her outdoor traditional orno or adobe oven. The oval or round loaves are sweetened, yeasty egg bread.
We see them piled high in the backs of flatbed trucks on their way to the village market. For three or four days there will be no other type of bread for sale. We get our fill of this luscious treat.
Find the tiny white plastic baby Jesus stuffed inside (each baker determines how many s/he will put in each loaf), and you will have the honor of providing tamales and atolé for your entire family on Dia de la Candelaria on February 2, 40 days after the birth of Jesus. [My observation: In Mexico, the magic number seems to be 40. Forty is the gestation time in weeks for women to have a “normal” birth. Traditionally, women stay sequestered for 40 days after birth. Moses and his people wandered the desert for 40 years.]
Recipe for Rosca de Reyes from Inside Mexico! or try any egg bread recipe but only let it rise once. Form the loaf into a circle or oblong shape. Decorate with candied fruits and the concha (the little sugar buns that sit atop the rosca). Don’t forget to stuff it with the little plastic Jesus figure. If you can’t get that, then the fava bean used traditionally before plastic figures were available, will definitely suffice.
We had ours with fresh steamed vegetables: green beans, choyote squash, carrots, along with quesadillas and toasted garbanzo bean soup, washed down with our favorite beer.
Posted in Food & Recipes, Oaxaca recipes, Photography, Travel & Tourism
Tagged blogsherpa, candelaria, culture, Day of the Three Kings, food, Mexico, Oaxaca, recipe, Rosca de Reyes
Last night, after supper under the stars at Samburguesas munching on chile relleno torta and sipping Corona, we piled into the van to visit the godchildren of Dolores and Federico and bring them a rosca. This is a large egg bread ring topped with candied fruits, sugar, and hidden little plastic babies baked inside. Whomever gets the slice with the baby is obliged to offer a fiesta on February 6. This morning I was awakened by a knock on my door at 8:30 a.m. Norma, time for rosca and hot chocolate. I scrambled to get dressed and join the family around the kitchen table for another Zapotec tradition. Dolores had cut the bread in slices for each of us to take a piece. There was a very delicious cup of hot chocolate at my place. I eyed the ring and chose my slice, dipping it into the chocolate and taking a bite, repeating the ritual, as is the custom for eating pan dulce at breakfast. I breathed a quiet sigh of relief. No baby for me. This is a very ancient tradition, Eric says to me earlier in the week as we snacked on rosca at Elsa’s house. I wonder where it originates from.
Postscript: Another supper at Samburguesas. Federico explains the origins of Rosca de Reyes in Spanish and Janet and Omar, his children, translate and add some details they learned in school. This was originally a European custom, they say, and explain that when the baby Jesus was born the three wise men (Kings) assembled from all over the world and walked to the manger. One of the Kings rode a horse, another a camel, another an elephant. One carried gold, another incense and another myrrh to present as gifts to the virgin. The Virgin Mary was afraid and she hid. This is why the little plastic babies are hidden in the bread. In Europe, the bread contained a baby and a wedding ring. The lore recounts that the person who gets the baby will be single all their life and the person who gets the ring will be happily married. When the tradition came to Mexico, only the plastic baby was baked into the bread. The person who gets the baby will get married and give a fiesta on February 2.
The bread is decorated with with red and green candied fruits — the colors of Mexico. Janet and Omar say that they learned this explanation through their study at the village church.
This morning, as I sip choco-cafe in the kitchen before the taxi comes to take me to the airport, Federico cuts me a slice of the delicious rosca, then packages up about half the bread for me to take home to Stephen for new year’s wishes. Buen provecho!