FMHOY - Fuerteventura
On 6th January the Three Kings come into every house and bring presents and it is also the time for this mythical dessert and the traditional surprises it contains. It has various shapes, ingredients and flavours and is unavoidable at Christmas. The Roscón de Reyes is very popular in Spain and is served at most tables. There are some houses where this desert is served during the eve of Three Kings' Day, on 5th January and in others it is served on the 6th. However, it's origins have nothing to do with Christmas, nor with royalty crowns.
It is a tradition that dates back to Roman times, at the 2nd century B.C. and that was celebrated mid-December. This was when slaves finished their work in the fields and during that week, they used to celebrate pagan festivities known as the « Saturnalia ». A few days of fun when servants did not have to carry out any work and could relax and enjoy themselves. They used to celebrate the end of the darkest times of the year and the beginning of the return of the light. During those festivities, people used to elaborate round cakes made with figs, dates and honey and that used to be shared equally amongst everyone, both slaves and commoners.
Nowadays it is one of the most typical deserts sold in bakeries during Christmas festivities. It was King Philip V of Spain, uncle of the French King Louis XV, who introduced the roscon in the country that was later exported to America. At the beginning, this tradition was reserved for people of high status that was later passed on to the medium and lower classes of society. Madrid and Sevilla were the towns that adapted the quickest to this custom.
It was during the 3rd century A.D. that the broad bean was introduced in the roscon. This pulse was the symbol of prosperity, which means that when someone found it in their portion, it meant good luck and a prosperous year. Furthermore, that person was free all day, did not have to work and received all kinds of luxuries fit for a king all day long. Although times changed, some customs prevailed and one of them is this dessert with a surprise inside it. However, King Philip V introduced the custom of the coin as the surprise and therefore the broad bean became a negative symbol. Nowadays, the person who gets the porcelain figurine is crowned as the «king or queen of the party» and the person who gets the broad bean has to pay for the desert or make it.
In order to elaborate this dessert we need flour, milk, eggs, orange flower water, margarine, sugar and salt. We can add other ingredients such as anise. The decoration is another important detail for the roscon and it tends to be decorated with crystallised fruits, especially red and green, as they are the symbols of the gemstones and emeralds that the Three Kings brought. Then it goes in the oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees, depending on its size. Finally, it can be filled with cream, custard, chocolate, truffles, etc., and of course, not forgetting to add the figurine and the broad bean.