A traditional Spanish cake that's served to celebrate Epiphany on January 6th. This is based on a fabulous roscón recipe from the blog La Receta de la Felicidad.
Mix all sponge ingredients together and form into a ball. Place the ball in a deep bowl and cover with lukewarm water.
Allow to proof until the ball doubles in size and floats to the surface of the water. It takes about 20-30 minutes for me usually. It depends on the ambient temperature and how active your yeast is.
Measure out your flour, yeast, sugar, zest, and salt and put it into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for a second on low to incorporate everything.
Remove your proofed sponge from the water bath and add it to the mixer along with the milk and orange-blossom water. Mix well.
Add eggs one at a time mixing in between each egg.
Knead the dough for 5 minutes in your stand mixer on low using the dough hook attachment. You can also knead by hand for 5-8 minutes.
Add the butter to the stand mixer and knead on low for 10 minutes until the dough is elastic, soft, and all the butter is incorporated. You can also knead by hand for 10-13 minutes.
Put the dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth and allow to proof in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
After it's doubled in size, remove the dough from the bowl and divide into two halves.
Shape each half into a ball and then form a ring from the ball. place the dough rings onto two baking sheets lined with parchment. (I also used silicon liners in my pans below the parchment.) The finished rings should be about 8-9 inches in diameter.
Cover the rings loosely with plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warm place for about 2 hours, until they have about doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375F/190C.
If you wish to garnish the rings with sugar, simply mix a few drops of orange-blossom water with sugar. Add the water a drop at a time until the sugar is the consistency of damp sand. Sprinkle the damp sugar around the rings.
Bake the cakes one at a time for about 15 minutes each. They should be golden brown.
Allow the cakes to cool completely on wire racks.
Make a big batch of your favorite whipped cream. I like to make mine SWEET and add a bit of vanilla too.
Cut the rings in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Pipe a thick portion of whipped cream on top of the bottom half and then top it with the top half like a big whipped cream sandwich.
In Spain there is often a prize and/or lima bean hidden in the roscón. In Spain it's often baked into the bread, but I like to wrap a little trinket in plastic wrap and hide it in the whipped cream layer.