Catholic Recipe: King’s Ring
Twelve days after Christmas we celebrate the great feast of Epiphany, or Little Christmas, as it is sometimes called, in honor of the visit of the three kings who brought gifts to the Christ Child in the manger.
Twelfth-night is an occasion for parties the world round. In some households in this country, it is the time to dismantle the tree and remove all decorations. In many countries in Europe a twelfth-cake is the center of the feast. This is usually a three-layer white cake with white frosting. It can be decorated with candies or candied fruits as elaborately as you please. In each layer, before it is baked, a bean is hidden, and whoever gets a piece of cake with a bean in it becomes one of the three kings for the balance of the evening — Caspar (Gaspar), Melchior, and Balthazar. At a children's party this can be great fun, because any child who forgets to address a king by his proper name must pay a forfeit, and this can lead to hilarious results.
In Latin America sweet bread shaped in a ring and called King's Ring is served instead of cake. Whoever finds the figurine baked in the ring will have a luck-filled year!
Scald milk; stir in sugar, salt, and shortening. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in water; combine with lukewarm milk. Stir in eggs, then 3 cups flour. Beat smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough; knead until smooth and elastic. Put in well-greased bowl; turn to bring greased side to top. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled — about 1-1/2 hours. Punch down; turn out on lightly floured board; divide in half. Roll each half into an oblong about 14 by 12 inches. Brush with melted butter; sprinkle generously with cinnamon-sugar. Combine Brazil nuts and mixed candied fruit; sprinkle 1 cup over each oblong. Wrap 2 dime-store figurines in aluminum foil; tuck 1 into center of each oblong. Roll into 2 ropes about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Form each rope into ring in greased 10-inch ring mold. Brush with melted butter. Cover; let rise until doubled — about 1 hour. Bake at 375° about 30 minutes. Cool on rack. Frost and decorate if desired. Makes 2 rings.Recipe Source: Cook's Blessings, The by Demetria Taylor, Random House, New York, 1965