Monday, 5 January 2015

Rosca de Reyes

King's Day Pastry

La Rosca de Reyes o Roscon, as it is also called is a rich egg sweet bread-pastry that traditionally is eaten in Spain and Latin American countries commemorating the King's Day, or the 3 wise men visiting baby Jesus. It is traditionally decorated with fruit and a little baby toy might be put inside, other toys are put in different countries. Living here in England, I have had the need or recreating moments of family and warmth that we had surounded by beloved ones. Rosca de Reyes with a thick Mexican style hot chocolate is just the perfect moment to have with family and friends. For many years I have done different recipes of Rosca and invite friends over my home. Some of them good, others not that good, but still we ate them. As it is a bread rich in egg yolks, it takes long time to rise and therefore, if not patient might not come as perfect. I have experimented over recipes, more eggs, less eggs, but putting less eggs makes such special bread more like the others, it looses its beauty in taste and colour. Later on, I learnt to use condensed milk which was a big discovery when making sweet breads, because it just gives the perfect sweetness needed and the bread last for longer time soft.

To prepare the Rosca de Reyes, you must bare in mind 2 very important realities: 1) that it is a difficult dough and needs a lot of patience and 2) that takes a lot of time!!! but the end product is always very satisfying (if done well) and if you manage to handle it, it is something you would like to do every year! You need to prepare yourself one day before with ingredients, and depending on if you like it to be ready by the morning, afternoon or evening you might need to begin one night before or even earlier.

Mother dough

2 eggs
4 yolks (all eggs must be room temperature)
1 can Condensed Milk
200 gr. Strong Flour
1 tbsp instant yeast or 30gr. fresh yeast

You can begin one night before going to sleep, put all ingredients on a bowl and mix a well and let them rest for around 2-4 hrs or over night to use them the next day. If over night, leave them in the fridge and take them out next day waiting for them to be on room temperature before being used. 


Mother dough+
300 gr. Strong Flour
100 gr. Butter (butter must be room temperature)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 baking powder

Now! get ready to knead the dough for a long time!!!!! First add the butter to the mother dough, cut in squares, fix it little by little. Then, add the salt and vanilla, mix them well. And finally begin to add the rest of the flour little by little. If you have a kneeling machine, then use it, it will help you not to get too tired. We want to avoid adding more flour, it doesn't matter how sticky it feels you must just concentrate in keeping kneading the dough. The end consistency should be still a bit sticky, but it seems to kind of look soft and seems to make your hands cleaner from the dough, even the surface. Once the dough has the correct consistency, you add slightly a little bit of flour just to fold it a couple of times, put it on a clay or plastic bowl and let it rest for 3-4 hrs.

If you began one day before, you can let the dough rest in the fridge over the night only to be used next day after the dough is at room temperature and be ready to be shaped.

Shaping The Rosca
with a little bi of flour on the surface, open the dough forming an oval shape, then rolled to create a midium size tube but long too. Then one side should be made thinner and the other side must be opened to put the thin side inside  and be able to close the circle creating either a round or oval shape. Put on the tray that you intent to cook it on, either with grease paper or oil on it. Let it rest for 3-4 hrs. The raising of this dough is very slow, so you should not worry about how slow it feels. It is recommended for it to be on a warm place, near the heater or sunshine. Anothr way of doing it is by having it ready in the night and place it in the fridge to raise over night. Then take it out in the morning and leave it until it reaches room temperature before placing it in the oven. This process will garantee a very soft bread!!!

Before putting it in the oven, brush it with the mixture of egg yolk and a bit of milk. Then decorate with the crumble, crushed almonds, or walnuts, and the candied fruit. This is the best time to prepare them is when the dough is raising!

Sweet Crumble

100 gr. vegetable fat
100 gr. Plain Flour
100 gr. Sugar

Mix the mixture until you make the crumble, you can add it to the bread as crumble or by bringing it together, you can make a thin biscuit.

Candied Fruit

You can buy ready candied fruit from the supermarket, usually they will be on the area for baking or Chritsmass specialities, but I like to make my own, I like to use apples, oranges, cherries o the fruit you like.. and caster sugar.
To cook the apples, peel and cut 2 apples in little squares. On a pan put some little butter and the apples with around one table spoon of sugar and a bit of cinnamon and let them cook until soft and the water has been absorbed.
For the oranges , peel an orange, and cut the peel in very thin slices, cutting the white bit as much as possible. Once the peel is ready, put on a pan with a bit of butter and cook with the juice of the orange and around 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar, and here you can add the cherries cut in halves. let them cook until all liquid has been absorbed and the orange peel looks bright in colour. It should look a bit sticky!

Decorate the Rosca at your liking, adding the fruit, walnuts, or crashed almonds, sweet crumble etc...

Cooking the Rosca

Before putting it into the oven, you may want to put under the bread a coin, or kidney bean, a ring, or if you find, a baby toy. The tradition is tht who ever has the baby in their pice of bread, will invite everyone over for food (tamales and atolito in Mexico) in the Day of the Candelaria. Into the oven it goes for around 45 min. to 1 hour depending on the oven at 150 degrees placed in the middle of it. It should look golden in colour. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

ANPAN, Traditional Japanese sweet bread


Japanese food has always been close to me. One of my closest cousins used to cook delicious Japanese food,  and also near my home there was the best Japanese restaurant owned by a Japanese man who was not only a great chef, he was great company, whilst one being in the other side of the bar he will have great conversations. One time I went with Yoko, my Japanese friend, and she admitted that was a very good Japanese restaurant. So I knew that I was going to the best in town. When I visit Monterrey, the first thing I want is to eat my mum's food, and then, Sushi!!!! I live in a small town here in England, and although there is plenty of foreign food, there is no Japanese, lots of Chinese, Indian and Italian, specially!!! In all of this time of being in contact with Japanese food, I have never eaten Japanese desserts, nor even Japanese bread. What I learnt was that all bread making is of western influence, but Japanese have managed to make their own version of of them. 

I have a lovely Japanese neighbor who shares with me the passion of learning new creative things, her name is Yoshie Allan. She is very creative, and makes lovely things with her hands:  she does not like cooking much, but she likes eating, specially those things that  remind her of her home land.  We decided to "shoot two birds in one bullet" as we express in Spanish  and use the time it takes for the dough to rise, so that I can teach her how to make crochet. 

We made the children play and dance and took care of sweet baby Melody, we spent a lovely Japanese-Mexican morning of sharing and learning!!! 

Anpan is a very traditional snack for Japanese people. As Yoshie mentioned, everyone loves them. And it is very common for children to take them to school. It is not surprising as the main flavor of it are a kind of bean called Uzuki (which is rich in fiber and minerals: magnesium, potassium, iron, folic acid) which are made into a very sweet paste called koshian that Japanese are crazy of! For me it was a very interesting experience and experiment. As a Mexican, I love beans, any form!!! but have never really tried them sweet, actually very sweet!!! I can say that the paste for me is too sweet, but combined with the bread, it makes a perfect match. Yoshie explained to me that this beans taste very sweet when hot, but the sweetness fades a bit when cold, and it is true. So in this recipe, I will not add measurements for the sweetness as each one could do them the way they feel is better for their taste likes. 

 Uzuki beans.

For the bread I have used a method taught to me by my beloved friend Monica Isabel from Colombia, who also likes to make bread and is very skillful in everything she puts her hands in, she also told me that it was a Japanese trick that I never saw before but that leave a very nice texture in the bread. 


Uzuki beans soaked over night. Cook them next day with enough water until very soft, than put them in the mixer to liquidize them, do not put so much water. Then put them in an extended pan to cook them again in low fire. this is the moment that you can add sugar or a sweetener. It has to be sweet. So if you try them and feel it is good, add a bit more sugar as the taste change when cold. 

175 ml. water
                                                          35 gr. flour

Mix the water with the flour well and then cook it in medium fire until thickened. This mixture has to be left aside for 3 hours covered, or it can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.

570 gr. flour
60 gr. sugar
10 gr. salt
60 gr. butter
140 gr/ml milk
1 large egg

In a pan put the milk, the butter salt and sugar and warm it, it should't be too hot, just enough to help the butter soften. In a plastic bowl put the sifted flour and make a hole in the middle. and add the mixture of the cooked flour with water, the egg and the milk-butter mixture and star mixing the ingredients with a wooden spoon first and then with your hands until the dough becomes soft and firm. If needed add more milk in case of being too dry or a bit more flour in case of too sticky.. but the mixture is almost perfect and I will suggest instead to keep kneeling until its firm (around 10 min.). Let it rest for 1 hour or when it has doubled its size. 

Lovely Yoshie knealling!!!



Preheat the oven at 180 grades. 
When ready, expand the dough on a surface and then roll it into a sausage shape. 

 Begin to cut pieces of 2 centimeters more or less and shape them into a ball. 

 Let them rest for 5 minutes and them flat them and add the koshian paste in the middle and close them making a belly bottom in the center and rolling them into a ball and place them in the tray. 



Preheat the oven at 180 grades and let them rest for 30 before placing them in the oven. Brush them with a mix of egg and milk with a bit of salt and put a pinch of black sesame seeds on top.

  Cook them for 12 minutes more or less or until golden on top. Enjoy!! :-)

Saturday, 20 October 2012


I feel very blessed that I have good Mexican friends in England. They give color and joy to my life. They root me down, nourish me and unleash creativity and love from my heart. Viva Mexico!!! I have a very strong connection between remembering Mexico and bread, specially on this time of the year, that the weather gets colder and it invites for sweet bread and chocolatito (hot chocolate) mmm... I have a wonderful Mexican friend originally from Oaxaca, her name is Adriana and she uses her hands in wonderful ways, what she touches nourishes. Her hands and her heart activate wonderfully and create and create, and help to grow, and help to heal, and help to help. Here an example of what her hands have place themselves to do Anyways, she decided to place her hands this time to make Pan the Muerto and other Mexican traditional breads and encourage me to make a class to share them with other friends. A long day, but the results were delicious and the company and experience lovely. I would like to share the recipes here for everyone else that would like to enjoy making delicious breads. 


In the years living here in England I have passed through different recipes for Pan the Muerto or Bread of the Death but non of them like the recipe that have been shared with me from my ever gorgeous friend with whom I enjoy the art of baking bread the must, Monica, from Besides being simple, the bread comes soft, well balanced in taste, light and delicious. The times I have made it at home, will be gone next day. But this recipe is a family secret, was given to Monica by her mother, a wonderful lady who was a master in the art of baking, just like my friend. From observing and letting my hands guide me I have developed a recipe which consistency is not as light as my friend's one, but its density makes this bread closer to a more traditional way of baking it. I hope you will enjoy it. 

First, make a mother dough by using:
100 gr. of strong bread white flour
50 ml. of hot water
75 ml of orange juice
25gr. of fresh yeast or 7gr. instant yeast
Let the mixture rest for a minimum of 3 hours.

On a bowl put:
400 of strong bread white flour
125 gr. sugar
75 gr. butter
50 gr. vegetable fat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
with your fingers dissolve the fats with the flour as if making crumbles.

On another bowl put:
2 eggs
3 yolks
1/2 lemon juice
1 spoon of orange blossom
and mix well.

Add the wet ingredients to the mother dough and mix them. Then begin to add little by little the dry ingredients and mix them with a wooden spoon or one hand as you feel comfortable. This mixture is by itself very sticky, but you may add from the very beginning one or two handfuls of more flour, later on I wouldn't recommend it as it will only create a very dense, heavy bread. 

You will need to work on the dough for around 10 to 15 minutes making short pauses in between to help the gluten do its job. I recommend to work on the dough in the same bowl, if it is plastic it is easier  turn the bowl around while the other hand lifts the dough up in a fast movement. You will notice the the dough is getting ready when it is beginning to collect the sticky dough of the bowl's wall and also it looks as if it has little airy balls inside. The mixture will still feel sticky, but don't mind. wash your hands and with a knife clean the bowl as much a s you can. put a little bit of flour on a surface and  just cover the dough to make it onto a ball and back into the bowl to let it rest for 1 hour or until has double its size.
It will be faster in a warm environment. In a cold environment put the dough near the heater or oven, it can even go inside  the oven if you warm it in the highest for 3 minutes and then close.. just make sure to cover the dough with a clean pack or plate so that it does not become dry.

When the dough has rise double size. Punch it down, collect it well and out it on a surface with a little bit f flour. make the form circle and decorate with what will be the representation of the bones as in the pictures. Wash it very well with 1 egg and a little bit of milk and put it in the oven at a 140 degrees for around 40 to 1hour cooking

It has to look golden in color and firm. Take it out of the oven and wash it with plenty of melted butter, and cover it with as much sugar as you like (I like a lot). Instead of buying caster sugar, use normal sugar but ground it for a few seconds, so that still has its consistency but there will be lighter ones that will help the sugar to stick well to the walls of the bread.

I really hope you will enjoy it and that will be easy for you to make. It requires a lot of patience and to learn to feel the dough till the point it is ready!

The beautiful altar that my friend Adriana created as a surprice for me to honour my grand parents! Thank you Adrianita!