On Sunday morning I was having a serious craving for pan dulce, or Mexican sweet bread. So I went to a place in White Center that I hadn't been to in a while, Castillos Bakery on 16th Ave S.W. just past the Albertson's.
My favorite is the empanada, a sweet bread filled with either pineapple, apple or custard cream. They offer a huge assortment of all different types and colors of sweet bread, and at only 3 for $1.00 it's an amazing deal.
As I was choosing my sweet bread, I noticed that the store was getting more and more crowded. I turned around and noticed stacks of huge rings of sweet bread; they reminded me of a Danish Kringle, which is shaped like the crown of Denmark. Inside the package were two tablets of Mexican table chocolate, and two little plastic dolls, a baby and a king.
Then I saw a poster advertising the pastry ring; it's called Rosca De Reyes, and it's traditionally eaten on the 6th of January, which is 12 days after Christmas. That made sense because virtually everyone in the store had one in their hands as they waited in line to pay.
A little background on Rosca De Reyes: . In celebration of Epiphany, which is the climax of the Christmas season and the 12 days of Christmas, a King's Cake is baked and shared among family and friends. The plastic baby doll symbolizes baby Jesus; hiding it inside the cake symbolizes the need to find a secure place where Jesus could be born.
Each person slices the Rosca; the knife is symbolic of the danger that baby Jesus faces at the hands of King Herod. Guests carefully inspect their slice; whoever ends up with the baby figurine must host Candle Mass, or Candelaria, on February 2nd, and also must buy a new dress for the baby Jesus in the Nativity scene.
I hope I've explained this tradition with accuracy; this is my first experience with it and I found it very interesting. Anyway, if you ever have a chance, stop by this bakery and enjoy some pan dulce, and don't forget the chocolate!