Epiphany. People use the word to say they had a great idea. Like the proverbial lightbulb going off over one’s head. But we’re not going to eat lighbulbs today. Nope. Epiphany is the time of year that Liechtenstein, as well as many other countries around the world, celebrate “little Christmas.” This national holiday is celebrated on January 6 and is a nod to the late arrival of the 3 kings to the very first Christmas party… afterall, they did hike quite a ways to get to Bethlehem.
Calling the Dreikönigskuchen a cake is somewhat a misnomer as it is really more of a sweet roll. You can find it fresh in bakeries all over Liechtenstein. Filled with fresh citrus rind, sweet raisins and bound with the richness of milk and butter, it’s a fantastic treat on a cold winter’s day.
The best part?
A single almond is hidden inside one of the rolls. Whoever finds it gets to be King (or Queen) for the day.
It’s a beautiful and fun game for kids. Once the winner is crowned, they spend the rest of the day in a royal daydream which, most assuredly, looks exactly like this:
NOTE: You can bake the almond in the roll, but I prefer to slip it into the bottom of the bread after baking and slightly cooling… that way I can remember what roll I put it in (a good idea if less than 8 people are eating on the cake… or if you have a little one you either want to win or you don’t want to choke).
4- 4 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp instant dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm milk, preferably whole
1 stick butter, softened (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 tsp orange thinly stripped zest
1 1/2 tsp lemon thinly stripped zest
1/2 cup raisins
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water
1/8 cup apricot jam
1 Tbsp hot water
demura sugar, for sprinkling
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together all ingredients except for the almond, egg wash, and coating. Make sure to add some love.
Meanwhile, take a walk through a vinyard in Liechtenstein… to see where your raisins might have come from. This place is just… sparkling with goodness. Isn’t it?
When you get home, divide the dough into 8 Pieces, one a little larger than the rest.
Bake the rolls for 30-40 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Brush with several coats of apricot glaze and sprinkle with the coarse sugar. It’ll sparkle in the sunlight, like a beautiful jewel…
Next, add a real crown. You can make one out of a brown paper bag or, if you happen to have one of these laying around…
Then, let a lucky someone find the almond and be royalty for the day.
I have to admit that, while I love, adore, and want-to-marry whoever invented French King Cakes, this version (popular all over the Germanic countries of Europe) is delicious and I’ll definitely be making it again and again.
And I’ll serve it with a big cup of tea or coffee and … an epiphany or two.
Here’s my epiphany for you:
May you always make it to the party, no matter how long it takes you to get there. And may you have friends good enough to celebrate with you, even when you’re late.
Love you guys!