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Spanish King’s Cake

January 6, 2011

The Twelfth Night of the Christmas holiday brings a party with a special pastry.  There will be parties, dancing and of course feasting.  During the feast this special cake will have a bean, coin or figurine baked within.  The lucky person with the token becomes the King or Queen.  This holiday carries solemn religious meanings, it one of the third major holidays, after Christmas and Easter.  The Twelfth Night just reflects the twelve days after Christmas.  Sometimes known as the “Feast of the Three Kings” (the Wise Men)as  believed they reached the Christ Child on January 6, the Epiphany.  This is the typical Spanish version and no, I did not make this cake, but I did eat the whole cake (but it was the small 15″ cake), does that matter?  Since I worked in a bakery all through high school to bite into an unbelievable, fresh, and perfectly sweetened cake is a quick trip to a place in heaven.  Sometimes I forget the subtle sweetness and plain goodness of European baked goods, but never for too long.  As a customer you would probably hate me.  I am always polite but I do always ask “what has been made today?”.  It works for me.  I have provided the recipe for this treat for you, but I will never make it as “Napoleon Pastries Bakery” is just a few blocks down the street.  Their recipe is very similar though not exactly like the one below.

Spanish King’s Cake


  • 1 T. Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/4 C. Warm Water (105-115 degrees)
  • 1/4 C. Milk
  • 1/4 C. Sugar
  • 4 T. Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 t. Salt
  • 1/4 t. Ground Mace
  • 2-2 1/2 C. Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 C. Golden Raisins
  • 1/4 C. Mixed Candied Fruit (chopped)
  • 1/4 C. Walnuts (chopped
  • Confectioners’ Icing (see below)
  • Walnut Halves
  • Candied Fruit 

Preparation *

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water; set aside for 5 minute
  2. Heat milk, sugar, butter and salt to (105-115 degrees F)
  3. Combine mace, 1 1/2 C. flour, yeast mixture, milk mixture and egg and mix thoroughly
  4. Add raisins, mixed candied fruit and chopped walnuts and mix thoroughly
  5. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough; knead on lightly floured surface until smooth; about 10 minutes
  6. Place in greased bowl, turning to coat top; cover and let rise in warm place until double (about 1 1/2 hours)
  7. Punch down dough; divide in half and roll each into a 20″ rope and twist together
  8. Place on greased baking sheet; cover and let rise until almost double (about 45-60 minutes)
  9. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees (about 30 minutes)
  10. Remove and let cool on a wire rack
  11. Frost with Confectioner’s Icing and decorate with walnut halves and candied fruit 

*  I did not make this recipe so cannot verify and the bakery I get mine do not give out recipes.  The one I bought was plain inside without the nuts and candied fruits which I prefer.

Confectioners’ Icing

Ingredients and Preparation

  • 1/2 C. Sifted Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 1/2 t. Vanilla Extract
  • 1-2 T. Milk

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly; cool bread slightly before icing. Place bread on wire rack with waxed paper underneath and with a spoon drizzle the icing back and forth (add additional nuts or fruits before icing sets.

Recipe from from “The Festive Bread Book” by Kathy Cutler

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