This is a recipe for Roscon, which is a cake that we eat in Spain with hot (very thick) chocolate on the evening of 5 January. Year after year the whole country goes out to the streets to watch the Three Kings (Reyes) parading through each town and village. Then we get together with families and friends to eat the Roscon, which always comes with a 'surprise' (a bean or a coin) inside it. Whoever finds the surprise has to pay for the Roscon. Then before going to bed we leave our shoes by the window, together with some left-over Roscon for the Kings and a bucket of water for their camels. If you have behaved well you get presents in your shoes by the following morning. And if you have behaved badly you get only coal (the Three Kings are much stricter than Father Christmas!)
On Epiphany (Reyes day on 6 January) you are meant to make some wishes for the rest of the year. Mine is that we all (all reasonable people that means - of which there are many, millions of us...we are actually the majority of people, so sure you are one of them!) speak out way more. In my dream world we would all (and especially all young people) decide to be involved in politics in whatever shape or form. We would be actually proud of being citizens of the world. We would try to convince all boys and girls to treasure excellence, and to aspire to being not ordinary, but elite, in whatever they want to do. We would speak up so loudly that nobody would care about what the trolls and populists say because we would be answering back, with reasoned arguments, to them. And we would defend with passion and conviction the need for more, yes more, enlightenment, rationalism, multilateralism and international engagement... I promise I was really good last year, so hope that the Reyes bring me at least a little bit of all this!
This is what you need for the recipe of the Roscon (it feeds 15 with a cup of hot chocolate for each):
- 850 gr plain flour
- 3 eggs
- 500 ml milk
- pinch of salt
- 60 ml of orange blossom essence (yes, a whole bottle)
- 150 gr butter (room temperature)
- 150 gr sugar
- grated zest of a lemon
- grated zest of an orange
- 14 gr of dried yeast
For decoration (most of this is optional):
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- a handful of flaked almonds
- a handful of perled sugar (if you do not have this, then a handful and a half of normal sugar)
- candied peel
- candied cherries
Mix the yeast, two tablespoons of flour and 80 ml of milk. Let it rest for half an hour until it becomes foamy.Then mix the rest of the flour, salt, milk, orange blouson essence, butter and eggs and mix it all well. Add the yeasty mixture and mix it well, kneading it a bit until the mixture does not stick any longer (this may take you 10 minutes or so). Then put it all in a big bowl, cover with cling film and let it rest for 2.30-3.00 hours. It should double in size.
Shape the mixture as a ring (leave a big hole as it will close down as the mixture raises) and let it rest again for another 2.30-3 hours.
After that, paint the Roscon with the egg and milk. Decorate with the perled sugar (if you do not have perled sugar then mix the normal sugar with half a teaspoon of water and decorate the Roscon with it), candied peel and cherries. Preheat the oven at 175 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes. Then paint some spots with a bit the egg mixture and add a few flaked almonds on it. Bake for a further 10 minutes.
This is best if it is a bit warm. But since the chocolate is hot it does not matter if you have prepared it some hours in advance (I always struggle for time, so I prepare it in the evening and let it rise overnight...and it is still good!) Just dunk the cake into the chocolate and enjoy.