(Twelfth Night Ring Bread)
 
 On January 6th, the Day of the Kings or Twelfth Night, it is
 customary in Mexico for the children to receive gifts. At supper
 that evening, or merienda (a tealike snack), a semisweet circular
 yeast bread is served. Hidden inside it will be one or two,
 depending on the size of the rosca and the group partaking of it,
 miniature dolls ......... they used to be made of fine imported
 china, but that has now given way to plastic. The person who gets
 the doll has to give a party on the Feast of Candelaria, February
 2nd. Someone else may find a dried fava bean in the dough, and he or
 she will have to help the party-giver by bringing the drinks.
 
 The dough for the rosca is exactly the same as for the pan de
 muerto, and the quantity will make either 2 large or 3 medium-sized
 roscas.
 
 Crystallized fruit is used for decorating the top and sometimes
 added to the dough. Often sugared figs, candied orange peel, and
 citron peel are used; it is a matter of taste.
 
 Baking instructions are the same as for the recipe below.
 
 Start from after the long rising period.
 
 Divide the dough into 2 or 3 portions. Press each one into a tight
 sausage shape and join the ends by moistening with water and
 pressing them firmly together. Set them on the prepared baking
 sheets. Set aside to double in size at 70 degrees to 80 degrees.
 Alternate Method of Forming:
 
 Form dough into a round cushion shape. Make a hole in the center
 with your fist and stretch the dough out to form an even circle.
 Allow plenty of space in the center for the dough to double in size
 without closing up the center space again.
 
 Pan De Muertos
 
 The quantity will make one large one ...about 11 inches in diameter,
 and about three small ones. The oven temperature is given for a
 large bread; it should be increased to just under 400 degrees  F.
 for the smaller ones.
 
 The starter can be made ahead or the day before. (Any left over can
 be frozen but is best used right away.) In fact, the final mixture
 can be kneaded and then left overnight in the refrigerator ....
 which I do to help it develop a better flavor ..... and brought up
 to room temperature before forming and the final rising.
 
 THE STARTER:
 
 1 pound (4 scant cups) unbleached flour, plus extra for bowl, and
 working surface
 
 1/2 ounce (1-1/4 teaspoons) sea salt
 2 ounces (1/3 cup) sugar
 Scant 1 ounce (3 scant tablespoons) crumbled cake yeast or 1-1/2
 scant tablespoons dry yeast
 
 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
 Unsalted butter for greasing bowl
 
 Put the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast into a mixing bowl and
 gradually beat in the water and eggs. (Mexican bakers do not bother
 to cream the yeast, knowing that it is fresh .... do it if you
 wish.) Continue beating until the dough forms a cohesive mass around
 the dough gook; it should be sticky, elastic. and shiny ..... about
 5 minutes. Turn out on a floured board and form into a round cushion
 shape.  Butter and flour a clean bowl. Place the dough in it and
 cover with greased plastic wrap and a towel and set aside in a warm
 place .... ideally 70 degrees .... until the dough doubles in
 volume, about 2 hours.
 
 THE FINAL DOUGH:
 
 The starter torn into small pieces
 1/2 pound (1 cup) sugar
 7 ounces (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for
 greasing baking sheets
 
 1 pound unbleached flour, plus extra for board and bowl
 8 egg yolks, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water
 1/4 cup water, approximately
 1 teaspoon orange flower water and/or grated rind of 1 orange
 
 THE GLAZE:
 
 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter, approximately
 1/3 cup sugar, approximately
 
 Liberally grease 4 baking sheets (for both breads). Put the starter,
 sugar, and butter into a mixing bowl and mix well, gradually beating
 in the flour and egg yolks, alternately. Beat in the water and
 flavoring ...... you should have a slightly sticky, smooth, shiny
 dough that just holds its shape (since eggs, flours, and climates
 differ, you may need to reduce or increase the liquid). Turn the
 dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a round
 cushion shape.
 
 Wash out mixing bowl, butter and flour it, and replace the dough in
 it. Cover with greased plastic wrap and a towel and set aside in a
 warm place ..... ideally about 70 degrees ..... for about 1-1/2
 hours, until it almost doubles in size, or set aside overnight in
 the bottom of the refrigerator.
 
 Bring the dough up to room temperature before attempting to work
 with it. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and divide the dough
 into two equal pieces. Set one aside for forming later. Take three
 quarters of the dough and roll it into a smooth ball. Press it out
 to a circle about 8 inches in diameter .... it should be about 1
 inch thick. Press all around the edge to form a narrow ridge ....
 like the brim of a hat .... and transfer to one of the greased
 baking sheets. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and set aside
 in a warm place (about 70 degrees) to rise about half of its size
 again .... about 1 hour. Taking the remaining one quarter of the
 dough, divide it into four equal parts. Roll one of the parts into a
 smooth ball. Roll the other 3 into strips about 8 inches long,
 forming knobs as you go for the “bones.” Transfer the four pieces to
 another greased tray, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and
 set aside to rise for about 1 hour.
 
 Repeat these steps to form the second bread with the other piece of
 dough that was set aside. Heat the oven to 375 degree F.
 
 At the end of the rising period, carefully place the strips of dough
 forming the “bones” across the main part of the bread, place the
 round ball in the middle to form the “skull,” and press your finger
 in hard to form the eye sockets. Brush the surface of the dough well
 with the beaten yolks and bake at the top of the oven until well
 browned and  springy .... about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the oven,
 open  the door, and let the bread sit there for about 5 minutes
 more. Remove from the oven, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle
 well with sugar.