The most vivid memory I have from my childhood’s Easter Sundays at home with my family – beyond my mom cooking and gossiping with my tías while my dad was arranging the charcuterie board and drinking wine with my tíos – is of my grandma making a grand entrance, holding a Rosca de Pascua.
There was always one at our Easter table (next to countless chocolate Easter eggs, of course), just like in many other Latin homes during the end of what is known as Holy Week.
The Rosca de Pascua was so important to my grandma that one time, in her excitement to come to our house, she accidentally left it at her house. This became an immediate all-hands-on-deck (time consuming) adventure to rescue the Rosca and get it on our table. That was the day I asked her what all the hype was about, and she told me with a no nonsense look and grandmotherly wisdom:
“It’s one of the most delicious things you’ll ever taste, you can feed your whole family with it and it only takes flour, eggs and milk. How could you not love it?“.
As I’ve learned over the years, she was right. I’ve been making this recipe for every Easter Sunday family reunion for the past 5 years. It doesn’t take that much time, it doesn’t require a big budget… and everybody loves it. So that you can also enjoy the deliciousness, I’m going to share my grandma’s recipe!
Here is how to make a Rosca de Pascua for your whole family, spending under $20…
How to make Rosca de Pascua (Easter Sweet Bread)
For a large Rosca, 12 servings
For the rosca:
– 3 eggs
– 3 tsp. of Fresh Yeast
– ½ Cup Milk
– Zest of 1 Lemon
– 2 tbsp. Vanilla Extract
– 2 ¼ cups Flour
– ¾ cup Sugar
-4 tbsp. Butter
– 1 tsp. Salt
– 1 tbsp. Honey
For the pastry cream:
– 2 cups Milk
– 4 Egg Yolks
– 3 spoonful Sugar
– 3 tbsp. Cornstarch
– 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Dried cherries, sugar sprinkles and sugar syrup.
Directions for the rosca:
- Activate your yeast. Place the dissolved yeast in a small bowl with 1/4 cup of warm milk and 1 tsp. of sugar. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for a few minutes.
- In a large bowl (you can also use your kitchen counter) place the flour and make a big hole in the center. Place the eggs, sugar, butter, honey, vanilla extract and lemon zest in the middle. Mix together and then add the activated yeast. You can also replace the butter with canola oil.
- Using your hands, mix all the ingredients and gradually add the remaining milk. If necessary add more flour. The dough should be soft and elastic!
- Knead for a few minutes, then cover and let it rest until it doubles in volume.
- Degas the dough and make a bagel shape. Place it on a baking sheet brushed with oil/butter and let it rest again until it doubles its volume.
- Once the Rosca has doubled its volume, paint it with beaten egg and decorate it with the pastry cream. Bake for 35 – 40 mins at 360°F.
- Let it chill for a few minutes and then brush with sugar syrup or honey to give it more shine and moisture. Decorate with sugar sprinkles and cherries.
Directions for the pastry cream:
- Place all the pastry cream ingredients in a pot over medium heat and stir until thickened. Place in a bowl to cool and cover it with a plastic bag, so that the top layer does not dry out.
What’s the difference with the Rosca de Reyes (Three Wise Men Bread)?
The main difference between the Rosca de Pascua and the Rosca de Reyes is that the former holds an egg inside, which represents the Resurrection, while the latter usually has some small gift inside of it, representing the gifts the Three Wise Men brought to Jesus when he was born.
The origins of the Rosca de Pascua
The origins of this sweet bread called Rosca de Pascua go back to ancient times and festivities in which people prayed for good crops on their lands and, in sign of gratitude, they offered these round sweet breads made with figs, dates, and honey.
The circular shape of the Rosca de Pascua symbolizes union, eternal rebirth, and continuity— three elements that are essential for the celebration of Holy Week. Like any dessert, you’ll find different versions in every region of the world, where the preparation, decoration and shape may be different, but the message it brings is always the same: celebrate unity and generosity.