Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Three Kings Day in Barcelona

The night of the 5th of January is one of the most exciting for all Spanish children. The Three Kings (Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar) arrive at their homes with all sorts of gifts. The big day is January 6th, when children can open their gifts ans have lunch with the hole family. The menu can vary a lot from one family to another, but the dessert is the most important and traditional dish: "El Tortell de Reis", a fruitcake-like pastry. It is a very fun and special day and even the dessert is part of the game: inside the Tortell there are two figures, the fava (bean) and a figure of one of the Three Kings. Traditionally, the person who finds the fava in his/her Tortell, pays for the Tortell, and the one that finds the figure of the King, will be for one day "The King of the family" and will wear a paper crown.

If you want to try to cook the Tortell de Reis, here you have the recipe. Enjoy it!

Tortell de Reis Recipe


500 g flour
100 g sugar
150 g butter
20 g yeast
1/4 litre milk
1 teaspon salt
Grated lemon rind
1 egg
Crushed almonds
Crystallized fruit (orange, melon, cherry, etc)

Don´t forget to find a bean (fava), a paper crown and a King figure or any other figure!


Form the flour into a volcano on the mixing table. Inside the crater mix the yeast, sugar, butter, salt, lemon peel and milk (room temperature is much better than cold). With clean hands mix all the ingredients until the dough reaches a solid consistency that can be easily manipulated. (Pointer: you know the dough is ready when it no longer sticks to your hands)

Once the dough is ready, put it into a bowl in a cool place and let it stand for a minimum of 4 hours. Then take the dough and stretch it from the ends until it forms a ring, and place it on an oven-safe baking tray. Wrap the figure of the king (or the surprise of your choice) and the Fava in aluminum foil and stick them both into the dough wherever you please, making sure that they cannot be seen from the outside.

Next, beat and egg and with a brush coat the dough. It should shine. Coat the exterior with sugre and coated almonds and attach the candied fruits. In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 300ºF. When the oven reaches the correct temperature, put the cake in for 30 minutes or until done.

Once the cake is finished, make a cardboard crown and put it next to the cake...and there you have yoru very own tortell de Reis!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Christmas in Spain

Spain is famous for its fiestas, and their Christmas celebrations go on for a bit longer than ours in the States - these pictures are from January 5, the 3 Kings Procession, celebrating the journey of the 3 wise men (Reyes or Kings in Spain)to give gifts to the baby Jesus. January 6 is the big day, but on the 5th there is the traditional parade to celebrate the arrival of the kings. For towns along the coast, like Barcelona, the kings arrive on a boat, and ride through the town in a procession that takes most of the evening. The kings also give out "presents", throwing caramels and other goodies from their floats to the children who line the streets waiting to see them pass.