Rosca de Reyes with Cranberry-Almond Filling and Eggnog Glaze
During Día de Los Reyes, Mexicans serve Rosca de Reyes, or King’s Cake. “Rosca” means wreath and “reyes” means kings. The Rosca de Reyes has an oval shape to symbolize a crown and has a small doll inside which represents baby Jesus. The doll figure symbolizes the hiding of the infant Jesus from King Herod’s troops. Traditionally roscas are adorned with dried and candied fruits like figs, quinces, or cherries to symbolize the many jewels that a crown would have.
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and let it foam up for a minute or two. Blend in the milk, sugar, butter, salt, eggs and lime peel. Stir in two cups of the flour, a little at a time. Beat for 2 minutes. Add remaining flour until you have soft, workable dough. Note: Your dough will be sticky.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl large enough to accommodate dough when doubled in size. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).
Meanwhile, prepare the Cranberry-Almond Filling. Drain the dried fruit of its liqueur. In a small bowl, combine the drained fruit with remaining filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.
When dough has risen and doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured board, kneading just enough to release any air bubbles. Roll out the dough into a 9- by 30-inch rectangle. Crumble the filling over the dough to within 1 inch of the edges. Starting along a long side, tightly roll up the dough, pinching edge against loaf to seal.
With a sharp knife, cut roll in half lengthwise, carefully turn cut sides up, and loosely twist ropes around each other, keeping cut sides up.
Carefully transfer the bread to a greased and floured baking sheet or pizza stone and shape into a wreath, pinching ends together to seal. Let it rise, uncovered, in a warm place until puffy, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Place the cherries (cut in half) on top of the wreath to decorate.
Bake wreath until lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes, covering the wreath loosely with foil after the first 15 minutes, as it will brown quickly.
While wreath is baking, prepare eggnog glaze.
Combine sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg. Stir in enough eggnog to reach drizzling consistency.
When wreath is done, transfer to a cooling rack with wide spatulas or a pizza peel. Cool for a few minutes then drizzle the glaze and grate a little bit of fresh nutmeg over the icing.