The colorful Bolo Rei reigns supreme as the signature Christmas cake in Portugal. It’s served throughout the festive season, but especially on King’s Day, which commemorates the three kings that visited the newborn Jesus in Jerusalem.
Shaped like a veritable Christmas wreath, King’s Cake as it’s otherwise known is adorned with plenty of candied fruit and nuts that resemble jewels and give the cake a lot of traditional charm. Like all traditional recipes, it doesn’t require too much effort, just a little patience and plenty of Christmas cheer! 🙂
- 375 g plain flour or all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp dried yeast around 14 g dried yeast
- 100 g sugar
- 75 g butter softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 lemon (zest)
- 100 ml warm milk
- 100 ml port wine or brandy or sweet sherry
- 80 g candied fruits or dried fruit like surtanas (for filling), chopped
- 50 g mixed nuts unsalted and chopped (walnuts, almonds pine nuts)
- 1 egg yolk beaten
- 50 g dry fruit slices
- 30 g mixed nuts unsalted and halved (walnuts, almonds pine nuts)
- icing sugar or powdered sugar
- Add the candied/dried fruit and raisins to a small bowl and pour the port wine on top. Leave for about 20-30 minutes for the fruit to absorb the wine.
- Dissolve the yeast in the milk in a small bowl, add a handful of flour and combine. Set it aside in a warm place for about 10 minutes. You'll notice bubbles forming at the top.
- In a large bowl add the flour, 2 eggs (one by one), the soft butter, lemon zest sugar and salt and combine. Then add in the yeast mixture and start kneading the dough until soft and smooth.
- If the dough is too tough, add a little more warm milk or water to soften it up.
- Now throw in the chopped nuts and pour in the port wine and dry fruit into the mix and knead until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
- Shape the dough into a round loaf and cover with a light dusting of flour. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen cloth and place it in a warm spot for about 1 – 1 ½ hours until it has doubled in size.
- Once the dough has rested, it's time to prepare it for baking.
- Cover an appropriately-sized baking tray with parchment paper and sprinkle it lightly with some flour.
- Place the dough on the tray and use your hands to form a hole in the middle so that it resembles a crown.
- Place a ramekin (or other oven-proof small dish) wrapped in parchment paper in the middle of the dough crown to keep it from closing up and let the crown double in size again for another hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180° C/ 356° F.
- When the dough is ready, whisk the egg yolk and brush the dough with it all over to get that glossy, golden finish when it's done.
- Then start decorating the top with your favorite nuts and dried fruit and finish up with a good sprinkling of icing sugar.
- Place on the middle rack in the oven and bake the Bolo Rei for 35-45 minutes until golden brown.