This cake sounds like a lot of work but I think I'm going to make it for Christmas.
King's Cake with Almonds and Candied Citrus Zest
Rosca de Reyes
This rich bread-like cake is traditionally served in Mexico on January 6th, Three Kings Day. A coin or small figurine is baked into this ring-shaped cake. Traditionally, whoever finds the hidden treasure in their piece of cake must host a party on Candelmas Day, February 2nd. Serve King's Cake with coffee or hot chocolate. Leftover slices are lovely toasted and served for breakfast.
Serves 12 to 16
1 3/4 cup raw sliced almonds, divided
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons), melted and cooled, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
5 1/2 -6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 cup water
Coin or small figurine, optional (but traditional!)
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add almonds and toast them, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet to cool and set aside
In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over surface of warm milk. Set aside for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, eggs, 8 tablespoons melted butter, salt, vanilla and almond extract until frothy. Combine yeast-milk mixture with egg mixture and whisk until well combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in 1 1/4 cups of the toasted almonds. Begin to work flour into egg mixture one cup at a time, until a wet dough is formed (amount of flour used will depend on size of eggs and humidity of air). Dough should be slightly sticky, yet firm enough to handle.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for 5 minutes. Brush a large clean bowl with some melted butter, place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise until doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes.
Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel long strips of zest from lemon and orange. Take care to remove as little of the white pith as possible (the pith is bitter). Cut zest into thin strips. In a small saucepan, combine zest, 1/2 cup sugar and water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Strain zest and reserve citrus syrup. Transfer zest to parchment and sprinkle with remaining sugar to coat.
When dough has risen, uncover bowl, punch down dough and let rest for 5 minutes before shaping. Turn dough out onto buttered parchment paper. With buttered hands, divide the dough into two equal portions and shape into two 18-inch-long logs. Twist logs over one another to create a rope and then circle ends together to create a ring and pinch together. Tuck coin or figurine into ring, if using. Brush lightly with melted butter and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F and move rack to center of oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with remaining melted butter. Set aside on rack to cool completely. Brush with citrus syrup, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup toasted almonds and candied citrus zest.
Per serving (About 4.5oz/125g-wt.): 430 calories (170 from fat), 18g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 11g protein, 56g total carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 16g sugar), 120mg cholesterol, 60mg sodium