Rosca de Reyes, also known as the “King’s Cake,” is a traditional pastry typically served during the celebration of Epiphany in Latin American countries and in Spain. The holiday, also known as Three Kings’ Day (a.k.a January 6), serves to commemorate the visit of the three wise men to baby Jesus.
One of the key differences between Rosca de Reyes and a traditional King Cake is the type of pastry used. Rosca de Reyes is made with a sweet, buttery dough that is similar to brioche, while King Cake is made with a denser, richer dough that is more similar to a pastry.
Another difference between the two pastries is the way they are decorated. Rosca de Reyes is typically adorned with candied fruit, such as candied orange peel, and is sometimes dusted with powdered sugar. On the other hand, King Cake is generally decorated with colorful sugars and sprinkles and may also have frosting or cream cheese filling.
One tradition common to Rosca de Reyes and King Cake is the practice of including a small trinket or figurine inside the pastry. In the case of Rosca de Reyes, a small plastic or ceramic baby is often hidden inside the cake. In the case of King Cake, a tiny plastic baby or a bean is hidden inside. Whoever finds the trinket or figurine in their slice of cake is said to be the “king” or “queen” for the day, and is responsible for hosting the next celebration.
While Rosca de Reyes and King Cake may have some similarities, they are distinct pastries with unique flavors and traditions. Both are delicious treats enjoyed during the Epiphany celebration and are a fun and festive way to mark the occasion.
In Houston, you can get a Rosca de Reyes at your neighborhood bakery or grocery store (HEB and Kroger will typically carry them, as well as Fiesta, etc.) Don’t forget to get on this year and enjoy!