Three Kings Day has to be among the favorite family traditions for many in Switzerland.
It is celebrated annually on Epiphany, which is on January 6. Families will typically serve a cake for breakfast, with each family member being allowed to pick one bun. And in recent years, coworkers have started the tradition of bringing a sharable cake for their teams.
In any case, the lucky person who picks the one bun containing a miniature sized king will be - you guessed it - king or queen for the day! Each cake comes with a cardboard crown and usually, the royals like to rub it in all day...
A brief history of the Three Kings Cake in Switzerland
In German speaking Switzerland, the yeast based Three Kings Cake (Dreikönigskuchen) is most popular. In the Romandie, on the other hand, the gâteau à la frangipane has more of a foothold.
It would seem as if the Three Kings Cake had an ancient history, similar to the Basler Fastenwähe. But surprisingly, it has only been around Switzerland since the 1950's when it was launched to drive sales of baked goods. From an initial production of 50'000 cakes, it is estimated that more than 1.5 million cakes are sold today - in a single day!
That's quite an achievement, and it does not even include those cakes which are baked at home...
How to bake your own Dreikönigskuchen
For those of you who live abroad or prefer to bake your own Three Kings Cake, here is a simple recipe. Last time we checked, those iconic mini kings made of plastic were not available for sale. Instead, hide a roasted almond in one of the buns.
Makes: 1 cake with 8 buns
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Rising time: 2.5 hours
Baking time: 25 - 30 minutes
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 500 g all-purpose flour
- 100 g sugar
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 20 g (dry) yeast
- 225 ml milk
- 1 roasted almond
- 1 handful almond slices
- 1 egg
- 50 g raisins
1. Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
2. Form a crater in the center of the mix.
3. Melt the butter, then add the milk, yeast and egg.
4. Stir well and add to the crater in your dry mix.
5. Add the raisins and knead for a couple of minutes.
6. Remove the dough onto a flat surface and knead it for 10 more minutes.
7. Let the dough rest for 2 hours until it doubles in size. It is best to place it back in the bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel.
8. Separate the dough into eight smaller pieces and one larger piece.
Important: Stick a piece of roasted almond in one of the smaller pieces:
9. Place the larger piece in the center of a baking sheet, then attach the eight smaller pieces.
10. Let it raise once again for 30 minutes. Mix the egg yolk and glaze your cake, than sprinkle it with the almond slices and/or coarse sugar.
11. Preheat your stove to 190 degrees C/375 degrees F.
12. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
And you're done! Now you just have to pretend to be clueless about the location of the hidden almond...
(Pictures of step-by-step instructions copyright by saison.ch)