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Carmen Argumosa's Roscón de Reyes

December 2018

Roscón de Reyes

This cake is traditionally made on Dia de los Reyes, or Three Kings Day, a Spanish celebration that falls on January 6. It resembles a crown of jewels, topped in candied fruit and sugar, and sometimes hides two surprises - a ceramic figurine and a bean. Whoever finds the figurine is the king or queen of the party, and whoever finds the bean must pay for next year's cake!

This recipe, from Carmen Argumosa of the Alambique cooking school in Madrid, was derived from a recipe she found at a bakery in the small town of Barbastro near the Pyrenees Mountains in northeastern Spain.

The Roscón is also available for purchase the week of Three Kings Day at Jaleo - learn more here.


For the preferment:

70 grams milk
3 grams yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
130 grams AP flour

For the final dough:

60 grams milk
2 eggs
4 grams yeast
Zest from 1 orange
Zest from 1 lemon
1½ teaspoons orange blossom water
1 pinch of salt
450 grams AP flour
80 grams sugar
25 grams invert sugar, like corn syrup
80 grams butter, at room temperature

For garnish:

2 beans and/or ceramic figurines (optional)

100 grams sugar
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 egg, beaten
Candied oranges and candied cherries


Prepare the preferment by mixing all the ingredients of the dough to form a ball. It is not necessary to have a smooth and uniform mass, just form a compact ball. Fill a bowl with warm water and place the ball in it. We’ll leave the ball there until it increases in size and floats.

When the sourdough is ready, prepare the rest of the dough by making a volcano with the flour and filling it with the yeast, milk, eggs, sugar, inverted sugar, the grated rind, the pinch of salt and the prefermented dough. Mix well to incorporate all of the ingredients, then begin to thoroughly knead the dough. If the mass is too sticky, you can rub your hands and the work surface with a little oil – this way the dough will be more manageable without the need to add more flour.

When the dough is smooth, begin to add the room temperature butter, little by little, while continuing to knead. Knead for another 10 minutes or so, until the dough is smooth and homogeneous. Form a ball and let it rest in an oiled bowl covered with a cloth until it doubles its volume.

After doubling in size, dump the dough on to the oiled surface and divide it into two masses. Shape each of them into a ring, then insert the bean and the ceramic figurine somewhere in each ring. Cover them with plastic wrap until they are doubled in size. For this final rise, it’s best to place each ring on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

While the cakes are rising, combine the sugar and the orange blossom water in a small bowl to garnish the cakes. When the cakes have doubled, preheat the oven to 350ºF. With a pastry brush, brush the roscones with beaten egg, then decorate them with the candied fruits and orange sugar and bake them, one at a time, for about 18 minutes. If the cakes are browning too quickly, cover them with aluminum foil.