Casca de Reis (casca de Reyes)
I am fascinated by all the classic, traditional elaborations and even with an old or vintage look. I think they have a very distinctive quirky elegance that makes it hard to draw attention away from them. Among the wide variety of sweets typical of these dates, this year you cannot stop preparing the Casca de Reis , the typical Valencian Christmas sweet that must be present on the table on Three Kings Day.
The Casca dels Reis or Casca de Reis is the ancestor of the popular Roscón de Reyes . It is a typical Christmas sweet of Valencian gastronomy (also of Mallorcan cuisine). A preparation made from marzipan with a filling that is normally made with sweet potato, pumpkin or candied yolk. Depending on the hands that make it, it can also be added to the filling with cinnamon, meringue or lemon or orange zest.
Cascas de reis are usually presented in the shape of a snake or ring, imitating the shape of a donut. There is a tradition that godparents give a casca to their godchildren during Three Kings Day so that they can share it with the whole family.
The size of the casca de reis is related to the age of the child to whom it was given as a gift.
Origin of Casca de Reis.
It seems that this custom or tradition is of Moorish heritage, given the main ingredients with which it is made, where almonds and sweet potatoes predominate.
Its origins possibly go back much earlier than the arrival of Jaime I, although it is since the creation of the Christian Kingdom of Valencia, where the tradition of giving godparents the Casca to their godchildren for the night of Three Kings takes hold.
The arrival of the “Llibre de Coch” book, the first recipe book printed in Valencian, from the year 1520, was the first written record of a casca recipe, its elaboration being unalterable for centuries, where probably, from the 18th century, it was identifies with the Three Wise Men to finally consolidate itself as the traditional sweet for that date up to the present.
Already at that time, Roís de Corella and Jaume Roig allude to sweets in some of the works they wrote. It refers to the link between this sweet and the figure of the Three Wise Men around the 18th century, while in the 70s and 80s it began to compete with the Tortell de Reis.
Sometimes, the Casca dels Reis, can be decorated or accompanied with chocolates or small details around it such as nuts, candied fruits...
The tradition until not long ago and before the Roscón was known by Kings in their lands, the children after the Parade left three glasses of mistela and sweets for the Three Kings on the table, as well as carob beans and water for their horses. It was the next day when the little ones checked how the kings had eaten and drank what was offered to them and, in exchange, they left the Casca along with the empty glasses and plates for the little ones.
Unfortunately, this tradition began to die in 1899, despite the fact that there are currently certain populations that maintain the casca as a tradition above the Roscón de Reyes. One of those interested in recovering this tradition is the Guild of Master Confectioners of Valencia.
We must not confuse the casca with the sweet potato pastisset or casqueta , since the latter are much smaller.
Despite seeming like a complicated process, it only requires that we dedicate a little time to it. We will prepare a homemade marzipan, without egg white, I like this result much better, in addition to making it suitable for everyone, a candied sweet potato filling flavored with lemon and cinnamon and, finally, some small decorations with royal icing .
Casca de Reyes recipe
For the marzipan
- 375 g ground almonds
- 225g icing sugar
- 24g honey
- 65-75g water
- 1 beaten egg for brushing, before baking
For the candied sweet potato
- 500 g roasted sweet potato
- 350g sugar
- lemon zest
- ground cinnamon to taste
For the royal icing
- 15 g egg whites
- 100g icing sugar
- drops of lemon juice
- 2 round gold sprinkles for the eyes (optional)
prepare the marzipan
- In a large bowl, mix the ground almonds together with the icing sugar, honey and water. Remember to add the latter little by little so as not to exceed the final hydration of the marzipan.
- Start mixing the ingredients with the help of a silicone spatula. Once it begins to acquire a more solid consistency, we move to a work surface and mix with our hands.
- Knead very well until you achieve a uniform, smooth and manageable consistency.
- Shape into a cylinder, wrap very well in film and let rest in the fridge for 24 hours .
Prepare the candied sweet potato
- Sweet potatoes can be used roasted or cooked. In my case I decided to roast them because they acquire a sweeter and more caramelized flavor.
- Once the sweet potato has cooled, remove the skin and slice. Add the sweet potato to a bowl and mix with the sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon.
- We must mix until homogenized. You will observe that the mixture becomes slightly humid and watery, this is due to the addition of sugar, since it is hygroscopic (it attracts environmental humidity). Nothing happens.
- Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan, place over medium low heat, and cook for 60-75 minutes, stirring occasionally . We must reduce the hydration of the mixture until we achieve a spreadable paste that we can pour without losing its shape.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until the next day.
- NOTE: If after cooling the candied sweet potato, we observe that the mixture still needs to reduce its hydration a little more to maintain its consistency when pouring, place it back in the heat to evaporate a little more water.
Forms the casca de Reis
- Take ⅔ of the marzipan, about 460 g, and form a cylinder about 58 cm long. If you notice that the marzipan sticks to the work table, sprinkle a little icing sugar on it, this will prevent the marzipan from sticking to the table.
- Once we have the cylinder, start creating a central hole throughout the piece. We will simulate the shape of a gutter in which we can arrange the candied sweet potato. Try to make the head part of the snake slightly wider and the tail part much thinner.
- Place the candied sweet potato in a pastry bag and pour into the hole in the marzipan. If you wish, you can smooth the surface of the filling a little with the help of a spatula.
- Stretch the remaining marzipan to the same length as the cylinder. With this piece, we will create the base of the shell.
- Place the marzipan over the sweet potato filling and seal the joints very well. Carefully roll the piece to give it a slightly rounded finish.
- Place the casca de Reis on a perforated tray lined with a silpat or baking mat .
- Shape it into a spiral.
- If any area is slightly cracked, moisten your fingertips with water and gently rub that area. The marzipan will come together and you will achieve a perfect finish.
- Cover with film and refrigerate for 12-24 hours .
- Preheat the oven to 270ºC with heat up and down . In case your oven does not reach that temperature, preheat to the maximum.
- Brush the entire surface of the Casca de Reis with beaten egg.
- Place in the oven at medium height and bake for 5 minutes .
- Place the grill and leave for 2-3 more minutes .
- Remove and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Prepare the royal icing
- In a bowl, mix the icing sugar together with the egg whites and a few drops of lemon juice.
- We must achieve an outline consistency.
- Introduce into a pastry bag with an eyeliner nozzle. If we don't have one, we make a very small cut at the tip of the pastry bag.
- We decorate the Casca de Reis to our liking.
- Important, we must decorate it with the glaze once it has cooled completely. We can place two round, gold or silver sprinkles to simulate the eyes, we will glue them with royal icing.
- Finally, if we wish, we fill the central hole with candied fruits, nuts, chocolates of our choice. In my case I put dried figs and raisins covered in chocolate.
- We serve.
- On this occasion I have made the marzipan using almonds, icing sugar, honey and water. On other occasions I use egg white, but it gives very good results carried out in both ways.
- The quality of the ground almond is very important. Not only for the flavor, but for the final texture. If it is of poor quality, the almond will be very dry and the dough will need more water to be added. If the almond is of better quality, it will need less water. For that reason, we must incorporate this ingredient little by little.
- The rest time of the marzipan is necessary for its maturation , do not omit it.
- If we use a good baking tray , we will prevent the base of the marzipan from burning. In my case I use this DeBuyer perforated tray .
- The cooking time should not be exceeded because we run the risk of drying out the marzipan a lot . If your oven does not brown the surface, reduce the cooking time and place the grill to achieve a golden finish on the eel.
- If you want to make a smaller casca de Reis , you will only have to reduce quantities according to the amount of ingredients you want to use.
- The cooking time will be the same for any size.
- The royal icing can be made with egg white, albumen or with a preparation of royal icing or Royal Icing , as you prefer. If we want to make it without eggs, we can do it with icing sugar and water.
- The decoration with glaze can be completely at your choice. In my case I have left you this presentation suggestion.
- It can be kept refrigerated , wrapped very well in film, for 1 week.
Some time ago I prepared the famous marzipan eel and I had yet to make the famous Casca de Reis . I should have done it earlier. Homemade marzipan, in my humble opinion, has nothing to do with the one bought in a supermarket or department store. But the candied sweet potato filling is a delicacy from another world.
I think it is an absolute delight, with a flavor that takes us directly to Christmas time. I hope you like it and enjoy it as much as we have done at home
We are looking forward to hearing about your experience!
Sources: Nougats and Sweets , Valencia Bonita
Eva lo explica todo con detalle y nos lo pone muy fácil, verdad? ¡Muchas gracias!
Hola Anca, la casca fue desplazándose y siendo substituído por el roscón de Reyes tradicional hacia los años ’60, pero a pesar de ello es típico de la Comunidad Valenciana. No soy de allí y no podría decirte en qué pastelería encontrarlo ahora, pero sí puedo asegurarte que es una receta de la tierra y que en las fechas de Reyes deberías poderlo encontrar fácilmente, o encargarlo al menos. ¡Aunque te animo encarecidamente a probar la receta de Eva, porque doy fe que queda de diez!
Muy fácil de hacer y muy rápido. Le doy un 10!
Anca Mihaela Tabaranu said:
Hola! No conozco ese postre, en la ciudad de Valencia y alrededores no lo he visto.