King's Ring

A traditional cake normally eaten on Three Kings Day, taken from Mexico: The Cookbook
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Preparation time: 1 hour, plus 15 minutes standing and overnight rising
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients

20 g fresh yeast or 10 g dry yeast
1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz/65 g) sugar
4 1/2 cups (1 lb 2 oz/500 g) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus extra for dusting
3 extra large (UK large) eggs, lightly beaten
salt
butter, for greasing
Ingredients for the dough
4 1/2 cups (1 lb 2 oz/500 g) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch of sea salt
generous 1 cup (8 oz/225 g)
sugar
8 eggs, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons orange blossom
water
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
scant 1 cup (7 oz/200 g) butter cold, diced
Ingredients for the topping
3/4 cup (3 oz/80 g) all-purpose
(plain) flour
20 g sea salt
4 tablespoons (2 oz/50 g)
butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (2 oz/50 g) confectioners’
(icing) sugar, sifted
1 egg
Ingredients to decorate
1 egg, beaten
sugar, for sprinkling
candied fruit (figs, cherries, oranges), cut into strips
melted butter, for brushing

Method

Pour 4 tablespoons lukewarm water into a bowl. Add the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let stand for 10–15 minutes.

Put the flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl and mix well. Add the yeast mixture and eggs and mix into a rough dough. Cover and let stand for a couple of hours.

To make the dough, put the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt and stir. Add the starter dough, eggs, orange blossom water, orange and lemon zests and bring the dough together. Knead for 10 minutes. Add the butter and knead the dough for another 10 minutes until the butter is completely incorporated and the dough is shiny and elastic. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap (clingfilm) and let rise for 4 hours or so, until doubled in size.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a roll, about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Join the ends of each roll to make a wreath, sealing with beaten egg. Put a wreath on each baking sheet, cover with clean dish towels, and let stand for 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, combine all the topping ingredients in a bowl and mix them to make a smooth paste. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator until required. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C/Gas Mark 6). Brush both wreaths with beaten egg.

Remove the paste from the fridge and divide it into 8 long strips. On a lightly floured surface, use a strip to cover the seam and then evenly space the remaining strips around the wreath. Cover the strips in beaten egg and sprinkle them with a little sugar. Decorate the rest of the wreath with the candied fruit and sprinkle sugar over the top.

Bake for 25–30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes or so and if the wreaths are getting too brown, cover them with aluminum foil or wax (greaseproof) paper. Remove them from the oven and carefully transfer them, on their paper, to a wire rack to cool.

BUY MEXICO: THE COOKBOOK

Mexico: The Cookbook is the definitive bible of home-cooking from Mexico. With a culinary history dating back 9,000 years, Mexican food draws influences from Aztec and Mayan Indians and is renowned for its use of fresh aromatic ingredients, colorful presentations and bold food combinations.

The book features more than 650 delicious and authentic recipes that can be easily recreated at home. From tamales, fajitas, and moles to cactus salad, blue crab soup, and melon seed juice, the recipes are a celebration of the fresh flavors and ingredients from a country whose cuisine is revered around the world.