Today is a very special day in many homes in Spain, especially for kids. The Three Wise Men came bearing gifts for those who have been good all year, and lumps of coal for those who haven’t been on their best behaviour. It’s a day filled with magic and excitement, but it wouldn’t be the same without one essential thing: the ‘roscón de reyes’ (Ring of the Kings), a traditional ring-shaped cake made especially for this day.
Surprisingly, this traditional Christmas treat actually has pagan roots. The earliest data point to Roman festivities in the second century B.C. It was the Romans who introduced the bean as a symbol of fertility, and it was incorporated into the roscón. Christians later adopted this custom and it became widespread throughout many countries.
Today, it is deeply rooted in France, Spain, Portugal and also in Latin American countries, and is eaten for breakfast or dessert on the 5th and 6th of January. This delicious cake is a part of many celebrations but, unfortunately, not everyone is able to enjoy it.
ALLERGY TO ROSCÓN
We mentioned in a previous post that some of the most common allergies are to eggs and cow’s milk, especially among children. We also spoke about coeliacs, and in our last post we saw that allergy to nuts is one of the most common food allergies at Christmas, with almonds being the main nut allergy in Spain.
The roscón contains milk, butter and often cream. It also contains egg and strong flour, which is used precisely because of its high gluten content, since it makes the dough more elastic and consistent. In addition, almonds are often used to decorate the cake. These ingredients make it a forbidden treat for many.
Which is especially unfair as they miss out on the added excitement of finding out who has the piece of cake with the broad bean in it (which means they pay for the roscón the following year) and who has the little figurine (which means they are king for the day). And, of course, the kids love a dessert that contains a little hidden surprise.
We want Three Kings’ Day (6 January) to be celebrated equally in every household, so we need a roscón that everyone can enjoy. It’s not easy to find a roscón that is gluten-free and contains no eggs or dairy, so we’re going to suggest some alternative ingredients to the traditional ingredients so that you can make your own roscón at home.
To avoid allergies to cow’s milk, you can make the dough with any kind of plant-based milk and use plant-based margarine instead of butter. You can substitute the egg for the dough with a mix of chickpea flour and water, and olive oil or any plant-based milk can be used to glaze the cake.
For coeliacs, there are gluten-free bread preparations and different types of flours that don’t contain gluten. But you have to check that the other ingredients don’t contain traces of gluten. Finally, although it is customary, you don’t need to use almonds to decorate the cake — peanuts, pistachios, chestnuts and walnuts are equally valid options.
So you see, there are many different ingredients you can use so that all of us can enjoy Christmas equally.