As January 6 draws near, perhaps you will join me in commemorating Epiphany with a traditional Three Kings Cake! Largely celebrated in Spain, Germany, Latin American and Eastern European countries, the Christmas journey finally comes to an end as the three kings arrive at the nativity.
This festive traditional braided bread with blueberry filling (in the shape of a crown) is a fun and memorable way to remind your family of the biblical significance of the magi and their gifts to the Christ child as the 12 Days of Christmas come to an end.
- In a large mixing bowl, dissolve one packet of yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water (110-115 F) and add 1/2 tsp sugar.
- Wait about five minutes for the yeast to foam and double in volume.
- Blend in the warm milk, melted butter, sugar, eggs, anise, and sea salt.
- Beat in the flour, adding a little at a time.
- Dough should be sticky but workable.
- Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes until smooth.
- Coat a glass bowl with olive oil and place dough inside, covering bowl with plastic wrap.
- Put glass bowl somewhere warm for an hour (I usually slightly warm the toaster oven and then turn it off just before putting the dough inside to rise.
- When the dough has risen and doubled in size, punch it down as you turn it out onto your lightly floured surface, kneading just enough to release air bubbles.
- Separate the dough in half and roll each into a long cylinder, measuring about two feet long.
- Flatten each of the dough cylinders until it is about 3-4 inches wide.
- Setting aside 4 tbsp of the blueberry jelly for the glaze, fill the centers of each of the flattened dough cylinders with the remaining jelly.
- Bring the two edges of the dough back together, pinching as you go along to create a seam, sealing in the jelly center.
- Twist the two jelly-filled dough cylinders together, creating a braided look.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the braided dough in a circle on the sheet, pinching the edges together.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Melt 4 tbsp blueberry jelly and 1 tbsp butter together and glaze the top of the braided dough.
- Push the frozen blueberries and cherries in the twisted seams of the dough, representing the jewels of the crown
- Sprinkle with sea salt and place in the oven for 25 minutes.