Large, small Mexican businesses turning out traditional Three Kings pastries

By Ines Amarelo

Mexico City, Jan 6 (EFE).- The coronavirus pandemic has made many Mexicans into pastry cooks who are taking advantage of any good opportunity – such as the Three Kings festival – to prepare the traditional “rosca” ring-shaped pastries at home and sell them via their various personal and other contacts, as well as on the social networks.

During the pandemic, there have been people who have used their free time – or the fact that they’ve lost their regular jobs – to get creative and take inspiration from other people who have been cooking at home, or from well-known chefs such as Spain’s Jordi Roca, to open their own businesses.

That is the situation of Paulina Fernandez, who during the months of home confinement began preparing cinnamon rolls for her family that proved to be delicious. Her mother, who devotes herself to cooking, suggested that she sell them and she decided to create her own little business: Paunaderia.

Now, during the yearend holiday season and afterwards, her “rosca” is selling very well.

“The Kings’ rosca is a good business because it’s the culture in a large part of the world. It’s something symbolic for everyone and at this time of year there’s a rosca in every household,” the young woman told EFE on Thursday, adding that she’s simply following the classic recipe, albeit with a few little changes of her own.

For instance, instead of using orange, she uses essence of orange blossom, and all her ingredients – both for the rosca and for other dessert pastries – are of top quality.

“I make gourmet pastries,” said the 22-year-old, who pursues her business at her parents’ home in northern Mexico City.

Paulina had been studying psychology, but during the transition to online classes she decided to put her academic career on hold and devote herself body and soul to her business.

“Now, I’ve decided to get a degree in gastronomy to devote myself fully to all this,” she said, adding that she is using the Internet to get the word out about her business.

Then, there is the case of Leonardo Marin, who at his family’s home in the southern part of the capital founded Dumarin, a small Vegan pastry business that just started up, and he’s turning out roscas and other seasonal pastries, like “pay de ponche” (punch pie).

Leonardo, 23, finished his studies for a degree in environmental systems engineering six months ago and a year ago he decided to become a Vegan. Although he’s not certain if he wants to devote his entire life to pastry-making, he’s been putting time and effort into it since he was 15.

“When I was 15 and in high school there was a gastronomy fair. On my work team, I was the one tapped to make the cupcakes and I liked it,” Leonardo told EFE.

For many years, he sold cookies and other products to his friends, but a year ago he had to modify all his recipies because he felt it didn’t make sense for him to be selling pastries made with ingredients of animal origin.

“Yes, it took a lot of my time and it was difficult to get going, and so I delayed and I just started with this two months ago, when I felt more confident that I had more ability with the Vegan pastries,” he said.

His roscas, which he advertises on the social networks, also have the traditional decoration based on “ate” (like quince jelly, but using different fruits), candied cherries and a buttery crust.

However, to replace the milk and eggs he uses a mixture of tofu and soy milk with which he creates a cream similar to yogurt and which is very spongy.

The custom of Three Kings roscas came to Mexico as a Spanish tradition, represents the visit paid by the biblical Three Kings – Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar – to the Baby Jesus and is traditionally celebrated on Jan. 6 and also known as Epiphany.

According to tradition, the circular form of the rosca and its decoration represent the crowns of the Three Kings and, in Mexico, inside the rosca are placed small plastic figures symbolizing the newborn Jesus.

The person who cuts into the Kings’ rosca and encounters the small plastic figure will then – on Feb. 2, or Candelmas – have to buy the traditional tamales for everyone who shared the pastry since he (or she) is immediately considered to become the godfather of the baby.

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