A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from January 24, 2008
Roscas (Rosca de Reyes—Three Kings’ Cake or Three Kings’ Bread or Kings’ Ring)

"Rosca” means “to curl,” and “roscas” are curled or ringed sweet bread with fruits, like a fruitcake. “Roscas” have been cited in Texas newspapers since the 1930s.

“Rosca de Reyes” is the “Kings’ Ring” or “Kings’ Cake” or “Kings’ Bread.” Rosca de Reyes is traditionally served on Three Kings’ Day (January 6th, 12 days after Christmas). Inside the cake is baked a figurine of the baby Jesus. The person who receives the slice with this figurine must host a party on Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas Day, February 2nd). The popular Mexican tradition of Rosca de Reyes is observed in Texas, where bakeries sell Rosca de Reyes each January.

Wikipedia: Rosca de Reyes
Rosca de Reyes (fruit cake) is a very fine cake prepared carefully and delicately. Although the name indicates that it should be round, the Mexican “rosca de reyes” has oval shape. This is due to be on the rise in the number of guests at the party, there was the need to expand it and make it oval. For decorating it luxuriously, Mexican people use tanned and fig fruit, quinces, cherries, etc.; which besides from making it pretty, enriches its flavor.

The tradition of placing a candy or a bean inside the fruitcake was very old. Whoever found the bean or candy, was forced spiritually to take a “niño Dios” (a representation of baby Jesus) to the nearest church of its house the 2nd February (Día de la Candelaria).

The replacement of the bean or candy for a plastic or ceramic “niño Dios” emerged because sometimes when the person ate the piece of the fruitcake swallowed the bean or candy to avoid the compromise.

The tradition of the “Rosca de Reyes” survives, which encourages to think it is possible that Mexican families can pick up the ancestral tradition of having dinner with the family and have fun with the closest friends.

We must concern about the marketing of this tradition to impulse the rescue of this beautiful tradition that brings Mexican families and friends together. 

Rosca de Reyes - Three Kings Cake - Kings Day Mexican Bread - King’s Day Bread - Three Kings Sweet Bread by EL MOLINO
1 LB (Diameter 10") for 6 - 8 persons ready to eat.

Roscas de Reyes History and Tradition
The tradition comes from the South of France, few centuries ago. At the beginning people used to present gifts to the “Baby Jesus” and mostly consisted of dried fruits, nuts, flour, honey, eggs and others. To commemorate the Epiphany, they took some of those gifts and baked a sweet roll with the shape of a crown, (Rosca de Reyes or King’s Cake), remembering the Magi or Three Wise Men (Kings from the East) that went to adore the Baby Jesus. The story says the Kings were looking for the baby, which is why the baby dolls are inside the Rosca de Reyes to look for it.

It is a family and friends’ gathering to celebrate the Epiphany and the Rosca de Reyes or King’s Cake is an occasion to have some fun and enjoy the get together.

It is important that you explain to your guests, that there are 2 little plastic dolls: one is Baby and the other is a King. The one who finds the King has to please (honestly) during the feast, to the one who finds the Baby and both have to make a party on the 2nd of February (Dia de la Candelaria or Candlemas Day), inviting all the guests that are present and offer them tamales and Mexican hot chocolate. That is part of the GOOD LUCK!

Mexico Connect
Rosca de Reyes
Three Kings Sweet Bread
Rosca is the name given to any ring-shaped bread or cookie. This sweet bread was once used by the friars to evangelize: a small doll, representing the Christ child, is baked right in the bread—“hidden”, to symbolize the hiding of the infant from King Herod’s troops on the day of Los Santos Inocentes, the Holy Innocents. This treat is traditionally served on the festive Three Kings Day, when the children receive their toys. Whoever gets the slice of rosca with the doll in it has to provide the tamales and atole for the next party, on Candlemas. To make a party-size rosca, you’ll need:


For the dough:
8 1/2 cups flour
8 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1.6 oz.(2 3/4 cakes) compressed yeast

For the decorative paste:
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg
1 3/4 cups flour (...)

About.com: Mexican Food
Rosca de Reyes- Three Kings Bread
From Chelsie Kenyon,

This is a great holiday bread shaped in a wreath, with a small Jesus figurine baked right in. While eating the bread, the person who gets the figurine has to provide the tamales for the next party, however everyone else tends to help anyway.
1/3 cup warm water
1 packet of yeast
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon anise seed
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
A small figurine or toy
Candied Fruit (about 2 cups of assorted fruit cut into strips such as figs, orange, lemon, mango or cherries)
1 egg beaten (egg wash)
1/3 cup sugar (topping) (...)

Google Books
Fiesta in Mexico
by Edna Fergusson
New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf
Pg. 256:
... for grownup children, with a rosca de reyes, a crown-shaped cake in which is baked a doll to represent the Santo Nino. Whoever gets the doll must give another party, on February 2, Dia de las Candelarias.

Google Books
Mexican Journey: An Intimate Guide to Mexico
by Edith Mackie and Sheldon Dick
New York, NY: Dodge Publishing Company
Pg. 25:
On this day large rings of sweet bread, called rosca de reyes, are sold. Inside of some are a small doll and a lima bean. The guests who find these objects in their pieces of rosca must give a party, on February 2nd, to those present.

25 January 1938, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, “Mexico’s Bread Has Personality; How About a Prussian for Tea?” by Betty Luther, pg. 9, cols. 6-8:
“Customers buy ‘roscas’ in Holy Week and take it to the church to be blessed,” said the pleasant plump clerk in the Pandia bakery at Seventh and S. El Paso streets. “Some people keep the blessed bread for years. Others eat it at once and feel very good. They buy day-old bread in Holy Week to make ‘capirotada,’ Holy Week pudding made with bread, milk, water, brown sugar, raisins and other fruits.”

There are three sizes of “roscas,” round like a ring.

14 May 1944, Brownsville (TX) Herald, pg. 9, cols. 1-6:
Another Border Blessing—Pan De Dulce!
War Hasn’t Curtailed This Delicious Mexican Dish; Herald Reporter Tells Where It Came From
Brother, you just ain’t lived if you haven’t devoured a rosca, or a semita, or a dozen or so moyetes, polvorones or chirimoyas. Nothing, pardner, absolutely nothing can touch a heap of oven-hot Mexican pan de dulce and a pot of steaming coffee.
SEMITAS AND ROSCAS—the semita is flat and oblong. It contains a fair amount of shortening and is flavored with canela (cinnamon) and some anis. The large semitas—measuring 1 x feet—are elaborate pastries, being decorated with a plait around the edges. The rosca resembles a large doughnut but is flat. It contains more shortening and is crispier than the semita. It is flavored with canela and anis.
In Spanish, rosca means “to curl” and this is exactly the shape of the rosca—it is curled like a plaited braid of hair.

22 January 1959, Corpus Christi (TX) Times, “Mexican Desserts Can Be Hearty or Feather Light,” pg. 10C, cols. 1-2:
2 cakes or packages of yeast
2 tablespoons lukewarm water
2/3 cup boiling hot milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs, well-beaten
1/3 cup soft shortening
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 cups coarsely grated or finely chopped candied fruits and citron

Soften yeast in water. Combine hot milk, sugar, softened yeast, well-beaten eggs, soft shortening and half the flour. Beat until well blended. Add remaining flour and peels.

Mix to moderately stiff dough. Knead lightly on floured board to smooth out dough. Roll into a rope to make a large ring or divide dough to make two small rings.

Shape and place in greased pans or on baking sheet. Brush with melted shortening. Let rise in slightly warm place until double in bulk, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Bake in a moderately hot oven, 375 degrees F., for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bread is baked and nicely browned. Cool before slicing. To decorate, spread cooled loaf with a favorite icing. Or this can be made by blending powdered sugar with milk or water to thick-spread consistency. Spread over loaf and decorate with bits of candied fruit or peels.

6 January 1966, Brownsville (TX) Herald, “Some Nations Observe Custom of Twelfth Cake” by Jeanne Lesem, pg. 4A, cols. 5-6:
NEW YORK (UPI)—Twelfth Night takes the cake.

King’s Cake, Twelfth Cake and bean cake are all names for the same thing, a pound-cake like confection baked on Jan. 6, which is Epiphany Day, to honor the Magi. But some historians say that the custom pre-dates Christianity.

In our time, the ceremony of the Twelfth Cake generally is credited to the French, says the American Institute of Baking. Tradition dictates that a small dried bean or silver coin be baked into the cake, which is a firm, thick, round pastry, somewhat like a pound cake with fruit.
Mexico’s rosca de reyes differs from the galette in that it is made with yeast dough, flavored with citrus blossom water and grated lemon peel and garnished with sugar sprinkles and crystalized fruit. Some Mexicans also use the cake to schedule another party. The guest who finds a porcelain or other ovenproof replica of the Christ Child in his portion of cake traditionally becomes host or hostess of another party—on Feb. 2, or Candlemas Day.

22 December 1980, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, section 2, pg. 1, cols. 3-4:
(Kings’ Bread)
2 packages active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
2/3 cup scalded milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 teaspoons salt
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup butter, melted, cooled
4 cups flour
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups chopped candied fruit
Powdered sugar

Place yeast in water; let stand until yeast dissolves. Place milk, sugar, and salt in bowl; mix. Cool to room temperature. Add yeast mixture, eggs, and butter to milk mixture; mix well. Sift flour into liquid mixture. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Add raisins and 1 cup candied fruit.

Divide dough in half. Form two logs about 20 inches long; join ends of each to form two rings. Place rings on greased cookie sheets; sprinkle with remaining candied fruit. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place until double (about 45 minutes).

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 2 rings.

Google Books
Cooking with Texas Highways
by Nola McKey
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
Pg. 5 (Name That Pan Dulce!):
rosca de reyes: A large, round, braided bread containing a doll that represents the baby Jesus. Available only during the Christmas season, this pan dulce commemorates the gifts brought to the baby Jesus by the three kings (reyes). 

91846.net: Your Neighbor - Lisa Bosques
Castillos Bakery: Delicious Pan Dulce, and the Story Behind Rosca De Reyes
Monday, January 7, 2008
Then I saw a poster advertising the pastry ring; it’s called Rosca De Reyes, and it’s traditionally eaten on the 6th of January, which is 12 days after Christmas. That made sense because virtually everyone in the store had one in their hands as they waited in line to pay.

A little background on Rosca De Reyes: In celebration of Epiphany, which is the climax of the Christmas season and the 12 days of Christmas, a King’s Cake is baked and shared among family and friends.  The plastic baby doll symbolizes baby Jesus; hiding it inside the cake symbolizes the need to find a secure place where Jesus could be born.

Each person slices the Rosca; the knife is symbolic of the danger that baby Jesus faces at the hands of King Herod.  Guests carefully inspect their slice; whoever ends up with the baby figurine must host Candle Mass, or Candelaria, on February 2nd, and also must buy a new dress for the baby Jesus in the Nativity scene.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Thursday, January 24, 2008 • Permalink