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Prep 2 hrs
Cook 30 mins
The Day of the Three Kings, January 6, is set aside for exchanging Christmas presents, since it was twelve nights after the birth of the baby Jesus that the three wise men arrived bearing gifts. For this occasion a loaf of bread is baked in the shape of a crown, flavoured with lemon and orange zest, brandy and orange flower water, decorated with candied fruits and flaked almonds. A silver coin, a china figurine or a dry bean are also hidden in the cake. From: Worldwide Gourmet
- 450 g white flour (1 lb)
- 75 g butter (5 tbsp)
- 75 g sugar (3 oz)
- 25 g fresh yeast, dissolved in (1 oz.)
- 140 ml warm milk (1/2 cup)
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
- 1 egg white, beaten to stiff peaks
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 1 tablespoon orange flower water
- 1 pinch salt
- candied fruit, in large pieces
- sliced almonds
- dried beans (or a silver coin)
- Place the flour and salt into a large bowl; make a well in the centre and pour in the dissolved yeast; gradually mix in the flour; when the mixture is thick, sprinkle all over with flour and let rest for 15 minutes in a warm place.
- Meanwhile, cream together the butter and sugar.
- Mix the zests, brandy, orange flower water and the two eggs into the dough; knead until it becomes smooth, gradually mix in the butter, kneading constantly, until the dough becomes even smoother and more elastic;
- cover with greased paper and let rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes, until the dough has doubled in volume.
- Place the dough on a floured surface, knead for 2 to 3 minutes; add in the silver coin or bean.
- With your hands, roll the dough into a long sausage-shape, approximately 65 cm (2 feet) long and 13 cm (5") thick.
- Place on a baking sheet, forming the dough into a circle; join the two ends by pinching the dough together.
- Cover with greased paper and let rest another 90 minutes or until the dough has doubled in volume; brush the crown with the beaten egg white, decorate with the almonds and slices of candied fruit, pressing them down so that they stick to the dough.
- Place into a 180° C (350° F) oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until the bread is cooked and golden.
- Place on a rack and let cool.