January is here and in Mexico that means slicing into a deliciously soft rosca de reyes (Three Kings bread or king cake), finding a baby Jesus inside, and the promise of tamales in the next month. The tradition of the rosca has its roots in Christianity, arriving in Mexico with the Spanish conquest. Every January 6th, Three Kings Day (or the Feast of the Epiphany) is celebrated with this special pastry to honor the three Wise Men, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar, and their visit to the Baby Jesus.
For believers, the oval shape of the rosca represents the infinite circle of love for God, while the crystallized dried fruits that adorn the bread symbolize the jewels embedded in the crowns of the Kings. For its part, the plastic doll represents the Baby Jesus, recalling how he had to be hidden due to King Herod’s campaign of killing male infants, known as the Massacre of the Innocents.
In Mexico, the tradition holds that whoever encounters the baby Jesus when slicing the rosca must take care of it until February 2nd, when Candelaria (Candlemas) is celebrated, and invite everyone to eat tamales. For those keeping faithful to the Three Kings Day tradition, here are four places where you will find gourmet rosca de reyes to enjoy with friends and family.
Balta by Sofitel
The French rosca at the Sofitel Mexico City Reforma hotel was awarded one of the best in the Mexican capital by the Rosquiza Santa Clara 2022. Headed by Chef Alejandro Zárate, this restaurant was already known for its galette des Rois, the French name for this seasonal treat. Usually a puff pastry with the trinket hidden inside, it tends to be filled with frangipane, a cream made from sweet almonds, butter, eggs, and sugar. If you prefer the traditional Mexican rosca, Balta is also known for its candied orange and vanilla one, with hints of almond and crystallized fig.
Av. Paseo de la Reforma 297, Cuauhtémoc, CDMX
T. 55 8660 0500
Orange with rosemary, kumquat, fig, and filled with almond marzipan. These are the roscas de reyes you’ll find at this famous Roma establishment. This year, Rosetta has launched both individual and family sized rings, and, instead of waiting in the eternal line at this busy bakery, you can order in advance through WhatsApp. Definitely one of the most sought after roscas that patrons await year after year.
Colima 179, Roma Norte, CDMX
T. 55 5207 2976
Another winner in the Rosquiza Santa Clara 2022, this year Çuina is showcasing four different rosca options. The bakery, from Xano Saguer and Fernanda Prado, offers one marzipan-filled rosca topped with candied oranges and almonds, and another with amarena cherries, apricots, almonds, and crunchy sugar flakes. There is also a rosca with a crunchy topping, filled with crème brûlée, or one with chocolate and nuts, filled with candied orange gelée and whipped truffle. How to decide!
Tabasco 46, Roma Norte, CDMX
T. 55 8902 4840
Considered by many to be one of the best filled roscas, this Spanish artisan bakery rings in 2023 with not only a traditional fruit rosca, but a delicious nata-filled one as well, which is a rich cream traditionally used on Three Kings Day in Spain. Additionally, in collaboration with Soul Food, a culinary project from entrepreneur and foodie Luz Colsa, Mallorca launched its Cascanueces rosca (Nutcracker) made with crunchy speculoos.
Av. Explanada 710, Lomas – Virreyes, Lomas de Chapultepec, CDMX
T. 55 1790 7505