Twelfth Night, Epiphany and Delicious Bread!
King Cake: Rosca de Reyes
Regular Lavender and Lovage readers may remember that I entered a baking contest recently here: La Rosca de Reyes (King Cake) ~ For a Spanish Inspired Christmas & New Year, sadly I didn’t win, you can’t win them all, but I did come in as a credible second and that’s with no vote begging too, well not much, just a tweet or two when my post went live! A HUGE thanks to all of you who DID vote for me and for all of your wonderful comments on the contest post here: Revel with a Home-Made La Rosca de Reyes. I loved the challenge of devising a recipe as well as baking my Rosca de Reyes, and eating it of course! However, on the eve of Twelfth Night and Epiphany, I have decided to share the recipe with you all, here on my blog, so you can print it if you wish to make my authentic Spanish King Cake aka La Rosca de Reyes aka Three Kings Cake.
Twelfth Night is the festival marking the coming of the Epiphany and concluding the Twelve Days of Christmas. In mediaeval and Tudor England, the Twelfth Night marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve — now more commonly known as Halloween. The Lord of Misrule symbolises the world turning upside down. On this day the King and all those who were high would become the peasants and vice versa. At the beginning of the Twelfth Night festival, a cake that contained a bean was eaten, and the person who found the bean would rule the feast. Midnight signalled the end of his rule and the world would return to normal. The common theme was that the normal order of things was reversed. This Lord of Misrule tradition dates back to pre-Christian European festivals such as the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia.
Food and drink are the centre of the celebrations in modern times, and all of the most traditional ones go back many centuries. Around the world, special pastries and breads, such as Roscón de reyes, La Galette des Rois and King cake are baked on Twelfth Night, and are eaten for the Feast of the Epiphany celebrations. In English and French customs, a Twelfth Night cake was baked to contain a bean and a pea, so that those who received the slices containing them should be designated king and queen of the night’s festivities. In parts of Kent, there is a tradition that an edible decoration would be the last part of Christmas to be removed in the Twelfth Night and shared amongst the family.
Twelfth Night is also a night that has inspired literature and plays; Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, or What You Will was written to be performed as a Twelfth Night entertainment with the earliest known performance taking place at Middle Temple Hall, one of the Inns of Court, on Candlemas night, 2 February 1602. The play has many elements that are reversed, in the tradition of Twelfth Night, such as a woman Viola dressing as a man, and a servant Malvolio imagining that he can become a nobleman. And, Robert Herrick’s poem Twelfe-Night, or King and Queene (published 1648) describes the election of king and queen by bean and pea in a plum cake, and the homage done to them by the draining of wassail bowls of “lamb’s-wool”, an English drink mainly attributed to Yorkshire made of apples with sugar, nutmeg, ginger and ale.
My delicious recipe is copied below for you; please do try this celebratory Spanish bread. The most time-consuming part of the whole baking process is the initial kneading, which I confess to doing in my Kenwood mixer this time! You then just pop the dough into a big bowl, cover it and leave it overnight to prove and double in volume, before shaping and decorating, (great fun!) and proving once more before baking. This recipe will feed 12 to 16 people of varying ages and appetites. Don’t forget to add your little trinket or a dried bean is also traditional. Have a wonderful Twelfth Night, and don’t forget to celebrate Three King’s Day this festive period, it’s fun and extends the Christmas holidays just that little bit further! Karen
La Rosca de Reyes or Roscón de Reyes is a Spanish and Latin American king’s cake, similar to French brioche or Italian Panettone, traditionally eaten to celebrate Epiphany on the 6th January. The date is also known as Three King’s Day, which happens twelve days after Christmas and marks the end of the Christmas period in Spain. In Spain and Mexico, Three King’s Day is just as important as Christmas day itself, especially for the children, as this is when they receive their presents! For me, it symbolises a gift in a cake, as it is such a pretty dessert and I find that both commercial and home-made versions make wonderful and thoughtful gifts.
Have a GREAT Twelfth Night!
Do you take your decorations down on the 5th or the 6th of January?