The Three Wise Men ring cake is the most typical dessert eaten, I dare say, in nearly all Spanish households on January 6th. Traditionally, a bean was hidden in the dough (though nowadays it can be any small toy) with the idea that whoever found it paid for the cake. The cake has a very traditional flavour thanks to the use of orange and lemon scented sugar and to the addition of water infused with orange blossoms (Spanish "azahar").
To scent sugar, you need to grate the skin of a lemon and an orange. Put them in the grater and add sugar (remember brown sugar is healthier than the white one). Press the button of the grinder for about half a minute, and you've done the trick!!
For the typical "orange-blossom" flavour, you need to boil enough water for a small cup of coffee. Add a couple of spoonfuls of orange blossoms and leave it for a few minutes, so the water gets the aroma. Then use a small sieve to remove the blossoms. And it's ready to use.
Step 1: the sourdough
- 10 gr. of fresh yeast
- 130 gr. of bread flour
- a spoonful of sugar (coffee-size)
- 1/4 of a glass of milk
- Put them all in a bowl and mix them until you get a small ball of dough.
- Pour warm water on the bowl to cover the dough.
- Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave it for about 15 minutes.
- After that time, the dough should have doubled its volume. Take the dough out the water and you are ready for the next step.
Step 2: the dough
- 450 gr. of bread flour
- 20 gr. of fresh yeast
- 1/4 glass of olive oil or 70 gr. of butter (*)
- 1/4 of a glass of milk
- 2 eggs
- 120 gr. of orange and lemon scented icing sugar (see above)
- 4 spoonfuls of water infused with orange blossoms
- the sourdough
- a bean or a small figure
(*) The original recipe is made with butter, but you if you don't like cooking with butter, you can substitute it for olive oil. I have done both versions. Each one has a slightly different flavour (choose the one you prefer). The most significant difference is that using olive oil the dough will be a bit more runny (and, as a result, a bit trickier to shape).
- Add the ingredients in a bowl and mix them all together. Knead until you get a ball.
- The dough has to double its size, so, once again, cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave it. This time you'll have to wait for about 2 hours.
- The dough will have grown quite a bit by now. Knead it a bit more before you remove it from the bowl
Note: If you are used to cooking with salt, add a pinch to the dough while mixing all the ingredients.
Step 3: the final shape
- the dough
- the yolk of an egg
- sliced almonds, candied fruits, sugar...
- Put the dough on the oven tray. Put some oil on your hands so the dough is easier to work with.
- Starting from the center, create a ring as in the picture. Leave it for about an hour so it increases its size.
- Beat the yolk of the egg and with a cooking brush spread it all over the ring cake.
- Decorate with slices of almonds, some drops of wet sugar, candied fruits... In my family, we prefer the version that only includes sliced almonds.
- Put the ring cake in the oven at 200ºC. for about 5 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 180º and keep it there for about 15-20 minutes more. Bear in mind that each is oven works differently, so pay attention to the temperature to prevent the cake from being overcooked.
As an additional step, you can cut the ring cake in half, whip some cream and put it in the middle. The most traditional Three Wise Men Ring Cake doesn't include whipped cream, but nowadays most bakeries prepare them this way.
DONE!! Now it is ready to taste! It is a delicious treat after coming from seeing The Three Wise Men parade (5th January) with the little ones or as a mid-afternoon treat on the 6th (the Three Wise Men Day).