During my stay in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico during the epiphany week, I was able to partake in their traditional Rosca de Reyes (the classic King’s Cake) celebration. It’s interesting to see the different ways that countries celebrate this cake tradition that began in France. The most popular version of all King’s Cake celebration is held in New Orleans, where eating this sweet bun starts on Jan. 6 and continues through the Mardi Gras festivities ending with Fat Tuesday and, in some cases, longer. In fact, the King’s Cake with its purple, gold and green frosting has become an essential iconic symbol for the Mardi Gras festivities and the city of New Orleans and as such has become a significant moneymaker now that the cake is eaten during other celebrations and events such as football (so much for tradition).
In Mexico, as in many Latino countries and southwestern states, the cake is celebrated with families and friends only on Jan. 6 (Three Kings Day) along with the gifting of toys to children. Whoever gets the baby Jesus trinket baked in the cake has to host a tamales party during the first week of February. Neither Puerto Rico nor Santo Domingo do the cake thing however why not adopt such a lovely tradition during the Three Kings holiday (well, maybe minus the tamales).
Looking to celebrate Three Kings Day next year? If so, I found this recipe for baking this sweet bun Latino style.
Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings Bread)
Makes 8 to 12 servings
Rosca de Reyes — literally “ring of kings,” but best translated as “three kings bread” — is eaten in many Latino cultures to celebrate the visit of the three wise men to the infant Jesus on Jan. 6, also known as Epiphany. Rosca is sometimes compared to the king cake used to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans, though it is different in several significant ways. This recipe, adapted from the Food Network, kneads candied fruit into the dough, but roscas tend to be bare inside. If you want to go authentic, reserve the fruit for the top only.

• 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast, or 2 1/4 teaspoons loose yeast
• 1/4 cup warm water
• 1/4 cup dried figs, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
• 1/4 cup candied orange peel, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
• 1/4 cup candied lemon peel, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
• 1/4 cup chopped candied cherries, plus more whole for garnish
• 2 tablespoons light rum
• 1/4 cup milk
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3 large eggs, divided (but not separated)
• Water

In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water; stir to blend. Let stand until the mixture foams, about 5 to 10 minutes.
In another small bowl, put all the candied fruit and drizzle with the rum. Let stand for 15 minutes to 1 hour to soak up the flavor.
In a small pot, warm the milk over medium heat. Add the sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
In a large bowl, mix 3 1/2 cups flour, 2 eggs, yeast mixture, milk mixture, and the rum-soaked candied fruits, mixing very well until the dough gathers into a ball. If the dough is too wet, add additional flour, a little at a time, to form a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it’s smooth and elastic about 5 minutes. Put the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface. Using your palms, roll the dough into a long rope. Shape the rope into a circle, sealing the ends together. Insert a little doll or coin into the bread from the bottom, if desired (make sure you tell people it’s in there so no one chokes). Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Carefully transfer the dough ring to the prepared baking pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush the top of the bread. Decoratively garnish the top of the bread with more candied fruit and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the cake is golden.
Cool on a wire rack before slicing.