Three Kings – or the attempt to conquer the beast!

Tomorrow is January 6, known as Epiphany or in Switzerland the Three Kings’ Day. January 6 is a Christian feast day when we celebrate the revelation of God as a human being in Jesus Christ. In Switzerland this day is celebrated with a Three Kings’ Cake. A bread made from yeast dough containing a hidden symbol of the baby Jesus, like a small plastic king or queen (in the store bought versions) or other things such as a small coin (in my Dad’s version). Whoever gets that slice of cake is said to be specially blessed. The Three Kings’ Cakes you buy in the shops include a paper crown.

If you have read some of my earlier blog posts you will have noticed that I have what must be described as a yeast-phobia. Maybe I am too impatient or read instructions not carefully enough but working with yeast does not work for me. All I get is flat, doughy breads and cakes. Apparently I am not the only one because when you Google “yeast phobic” you get over seven hundred thousand entries….

For me it’s time to conquer this phobia once and for all. But I cannot tackle the beast on my own. I need an experienced Three King’s Cake baker to help me out. And that’s how I ended up in my parents’ kitchen with my Dad. I have to admit that he will do most of the work and I will be a watchful bystander, taking notes and pictures.

The recipe we are using is from Betty Bossi, by their own description “the heart and soul of Swiss cooking for over 50 years”. I grew up with Betty Bossi cookbooks and love buying their kitchen supplies and gadgets, so I am not going to argue with that. The recipe is available on the Betty Bossi website (in German): ThreeKingsCake_Betty Bossi.

You need 500g plain flour, 1.5 teaspoons of salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar, half a cube of fresh yeast, which you all mix together in a bowl. Add 60g butter (soft), rind of half a lemon, 4 tablespoons of sultanas (we leave those out because my mom goes into projectile vomiting mode if she tastes sultanas) and 3dl of lukewarm milk. Knead for approx. 10 minutes then cover and leave to rise for 2 hours at room temperature.

Oh and I realized I need one of those kitchen machines. Badly!

Leave to rest.

Divide the dough to get 8 smaller and one larger portion. Form balls and arrange the largest in the middle and the 8 small ones around it. Oh and don’t forget to hide your baby Jesus symbol in one of the balls. Leave again for approx. 30 minutes. Brush with egg mixture (1 beaten egg) and sprinkle with decorating sugar.

Then off into the oven (preheated to 180°) for 30 minutes.

It is best eaten fresh but we will wait until tomorrow morning before we will eat it for breakfast. In the meantime I will spend the night dreaming that I will be queen for a day tomorrow. And you won’t see the end result until tomorrow because while the Three Kings’ Cake is baking in the oven I am off to watch the Three Kings with George Clooney.


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