On Jan. 6, the line to Panadería El Cortez was long – most likely spilling out into the parking lot of the small, family-owned Stanton bakery.
Customers were waiting to buy the Rosca de Reyes, or Three Kings Bread, in celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany – when the Magi came to greet the baby Jesus and honor him with gifts.
In anticipation of the rush – and the projected sale of about 800 roscas – owners and St. Polycarp parishioners Ruben and Celia Lopez started preparing for their busiest day of the year a couple of days beforehand.
“Two days before, they work day and night,” explained their son Ivan Lopez, who is a seminarian for the Diocese of Orange. “They go home and rest for just a couple of hours.”
This sweet bread is made in the shape of a circle, because as Celia explained, “there is no beginning and no end.”
Made to resemble the crowns of the Wise Men, the bread has varied colors of gold, green and red as well as candied “jewels” of cherries and figs.
The bread is flavored with cinnamon and topped with powdered sugar.
A tiny plastic baby Jesus is hidden inside because King Herod was out to find and kill the infant.
The Mexican tradition is to buy the rosca because you’re looking to find baby Jesus. According to Ivan, the whole family will gather, and everybody will cut a slice of the bread. Whoever gets the plastic baby is in charge of hosting a party and serving tamales on Feb. 2, which is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord….
Panadería El Cortez is located at 7506 Cerritos Ave. in Stanton. (714) 229-9142.