Three King's Cake (Rosca de Reyes or Roscòn de Reyes)

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Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
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Yield: 1 loaf, 16 slices

Recipe photo

Three King's Cake (or bread) is closely allied with the traditions around the Epiphany (January 6th). This date commemorates the visit the Three Wise Men made to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. In Mexico, the day is a gift-giving holiday. Tradition states this bread be served, garnished with the "jewels" of fruit and nuts. Usually a small clay or porcelain doll is baked inside. The custom is that whoever finds the doll must give a party on Candlemas (February 2nd). To get candy orange peel like the pieces you see in the photograph, go to our Candied Orange Peel recipe.

Three King's Cake (Rosca de Reyes or Roscòn de Reyes)

star rating (8) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 1 loaf, 16 slices
Published: 12/03/2010




  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 3/4 cup dried mixed fruits or Favorite Fruit Blend
  • 1 tablespoon lemon, orange, or lime zest


  • candied red cherries and/or orange peel
  • toasted sliced almonds, pecans, cashews, or walnuts

Tips from our bakers

  • If you don't have a little doll to hide inside the bread, put a whole blanched almond inside with the filling, before you roll the bread up.
  • If you want to use the glaze that the blog story shows, combine 1 tablespoon of sugar with 2 teaspoons of water and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Stir to combine, then drizzle over the bread for the last 20 minutes of the baking time.


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1) For the dough: Heat the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan or at medium power in your microwave. Pour the hot milk over the butter, sugar, and salt, and stir occasionally until the butter melts. Cool the mixture to lukewarm.

2) In a mixing bowl combine the milk mixture, eggs, and yeast. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, and mix until a soft, smooth dough forms. You can also use your bread machine, set on the dough cycle, for this step.

3) Place the dough in a greased container, cover it, and set it in a draft-free place to rise until doubled (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Or let your bread machine complete the dough cycle.

4) After the first rise, deflate the dough, cover, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; roll into a 20" x 12" rectangle.

5) For the filling: Brush the surface of the dough with melted butter, leaving a 1/2" strip bare along one of the long edges. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add the nuts, mixed fruits and zest, and stir to coat. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the buttered section of the dough.

6) Assembly: Starting with the garnished long edge, roll the dough up jelly-roll style, working toward the edge with no butter on it. Pinch the seam together to seal it firmly, then bring the ends together to form a ring. To keep the bread round, grease the outside of a small bowl or custard cup and put it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the ring, seam side down, around the bowl and tuck one end inside the other, pinching it together to seal it.

7) Flatten the ring slightly, and using a pair of scissors, make cuts in the dough at 1 1/2" intervals around the outside edge. Hide a doll or candy inside the bread. You can place strips of candied orange peel in the cuts to create the look in the photo at the top of the recipe. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until nearly doubled (about 30 to 40 minutes).

8) To bake: Once the dough is shaped and is rising for the second time, preheat the oven to 350°F. When the dough is risen, remove the plastic wrap, and brush the top with beaten egg. Place the candied cherries (cut in half) in the spaces between the slits in the dough, and decorate with nuts as desired. Combine the glaze ingredients and drizzle over the top.

9) Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, covering the loaf loosely with foil after the first 15 minutes, as it will brown quickly. Remove the bread from the oven when the inner parts of the slits look cooked and the interior measures 190°F when measured with an instant-read thermometer. Cool the bread on a rack.

Yield: 1 loaf, 16 servings.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 67g Servings Per Batch: 16 slices Amount Per Serving: Calories: 223 Calories from Fat: 37 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 42mg Sodium: 91mg Total Carbohydrate: 32g Dietary Fiber: 1g Sugars: 12g Protein: 5g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.


  • star rating 02/17/2015
  • Marie-Claire from Hazelton, WV
  • I made this cake for the Epiphany, and again today for Mardi Gras. I had to bake it 20 minutes more than indicated probably because of the altitude (almost 3000 feet). It also took 30 minutes longer for each rise. Might be because we are all snowed in in West Virginia! But I just waited, and it baked perfectly. This time I used pure orange extract instead of zest and it worked wonderfully well. I love this slightly sweet bread, in spite of its name it is not a cake (maybe that accounts for the single so-so review). Another winner from KAF. It also looks like a million bucks!
  • star rating 01/09/2015
  • Ada from Highland village, Texas
  • Not enough sugar and cinnamon. I made it for a family of seven and they hardly did more than taste it. Over half will be tossed.
    I'm sorry this recipe did not meet your expectations, but do appreciate your feedback. Barb@KAF
  • star rating 01/04/2015
  • Laura K from NC
  • Candied fruit, even the cherries for decoration on the top, is difficult to come by in January. I used apricots, dried pineapple, and dried cranberries flavored with cherry for the fruit in the filling and that flavor combo really worked well, especially since the pineapple and cranberries are practically candied fruits. For a glaze I used the juice from the grated lemon mixed with 2 cups powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp orange extract, then decorated the top with dried cranberries, slivered dried pineapple, and toasted almond slices. I'd definitely make this again.
  • star rating 04/15/2013
  • Liza from Vernon Hills
  • This recipe worked great for me. I rolled the dough out into a bigger rectangle, and after I rolled it up I stretched it a little more, so I got a big oval on my cookie sheet, and did not need anything to help it keep shape. For the filling I used raisins and chopped dry figs - delicious! I put some candied orange peel on top.
  • star rating 01/07/2012
  • Marie from Fargo, ND
  • I made it yesterday, January 6, 2012 and it turned out great! I followed the original recipe very closely, and used the directions for the icing, too. Inside the bread/cake, I used raisins (I soaked them first to be more plump--about 1 hour) and cut up some dried apricots. I skipped the nuts in the filling because my family has nut allergies, and instead replaced more apricots with the nuts. During the second rise, it did not rise much like someone else said, but that did not make a difference in the end. During the last few minutes, the top of the bread did not look very brown, so I took off the foil and then it looked perfect. I don't know if our oven is off a bit, but it took an extra 20 minutes above the baking time to bake the bread. I am really grateful that the internal temperature was given (190 degrees); it was great to know when it was done. The other year, we made a different Rosca de Reyes recipe, and the middle did not bake and we had to throw it out. Thank you for a good recipe!
    Congrats Marie! You did just the right thing to get that bread to brown, as well as replacing ingredients to meet your families taste preferences. Keep up the good (baking) work! Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF
  • star rating 01/10/2011
  • nelll from KAF Community
  • So I put in the soaked fruit - not sure it tasted much like orange, but what the heck: moister is better, right? I forgot the orange zest until I'd already rolled the thing up, so unrolled it and sprinkled/spread the zest around. I don't recommend doing that! Messy. I used the trick from the blog of putting a 'ring' in the center to shape the dough around. It sort of worked, sort of didn't. It was fine for shaping the dough into a circle, but then the dough rose over and under the ring and kind of bulged all around it, lifting up the ring. I was able to take it out when the dough finished, but the center seemed to collapse a little bit. Doesn't seem to have hurt the dough though. I would have used some kind of metal cup or ramekin, but don't have one. I made and used the candied orange peel, but as I was afraid, some of it browned in the baking and it became quite hard and I didn't think it added anything. I took it off and didn't tell anyone it was supposed to look like a crown, because my roll was thicker in the middle and thinner at the ends and so it rose lopsided, and it just didn't look like in the picture. The slits and cherries had to do for the crown effect. But powdered sugar covers a multitude of defects. The dough rose wonderfully well in my warm kitchen (thanks to lots of beating with the dough hook, I think.) It was silky and tender (the bits that came off when I pulled out the ring were soft). I haven't tasted this bread; it was a gift for other people. They liked the idea of hunting for the almond and seem to have liked the bread. Next time I make it, I will learn from my mistakes (I hope).
  • star rating 01/06/2011
  • nelll from KAF Community
  • The instructions say "Combine the glaze ingredients and drizzle over the top." What glaze ingredients? I'm in the middle of making this, and I don't know what to do about some glaze ingredients. I'll go with what the blog says about using an egg wash and powdered sugar. Can I use fruit I've plumped in Cointreau? How would I do this with a poolish (as mentioned in the comments)? How would orange water be used (as mentioned in the comments)? I'm just forging ahead and I hope things will work out, because here it is Epiphany and I need this cake to be successful. I'm required to rate the recipe, even though I'm in the middle of it. Since something is missing from the recipe, and I haven't finished making it, I can't give it higher than 3 stars at the moment.
    I'm sorry for any confusion with this recipe. I've spoken with the author of the recipe and she will update the recipe as soon as possible. Substitute soaked dried fruit into the recipe 1:1. We have not tried this recipe using a poolish, but feel free to experiment. Create a pre-ferment by combining a precentage of the flour & water together several hours before making the dough. Try adding 1-2 TBS orange water and reduce the liquids accordingly. Remember that you can always call us at 1-800-827-6836 to talk about recipes with a baker. - kelsey@KAF
  • star rating 01/04/2011
  • larachase from KAF Community
  • I made this three times in the last week for various functions, and all three times it came out well. I was a little worried because it didn't do much in the way of rising on either the first or second rise, but puffed up nicely in the oven and looked beautiful. I baked it on a pizza stone with a greased ramekin in the middle, which worked great. I had used a different recipe last year for King's Cake that turned out very dry, but this was very moist and flavorful. I made it with half all purpose and half bread flour and used toasted chopped almonds for the nuts. I didn't have any KA favorite fruit blend, but made my own from the same dried fruit suggested in the blend. I even made the candied orange peel for the top from KA recipe for that, which also turned out well. Overall a very tasty treat with an impressive presentation that would be great to bring to any brunch, not just for Epiphany.

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