Because most of us probably do not get the chance to fly off to the Azores or at least to Portugal whenever we’d like to, we thought we would help you bring a little bit of Portugal to you. We are going to start with this post about Bolo Rei, because let’s be honest – there is nothing better than those delicious treats you can usually only get on holiday.
Bolo Rei (translated: King’s cake) has been baked in Portugal ever since the 19th century and is a typical treat consumed between the 25th of December and 6th of January. Seeing as I am typing this post during a little bit of downtime on the 25th of December, I figured it would be appropriate. We have adapted the recipe a little, since most of our family members are not the biggest fans of crystallised fruit like candied orange or lemon peel. However, even in Portugal many different variations of this cake exist, and we found one similar to our creation under the name Bolo Rainha.
Let’s get started. This cake is prepared in three steps. First, the yeast is prepared, then the base batter and lastly the cake itself, whether you like it with fruit, nuts or various fillings.
For our variation you will need:
- 450g flour (at least type 550)
- 25g fresh yeast (this works better than dry yeast, which could be used as an alternative however)
- 100ml milk
- 100g sugar
- 1 egg
- 100g butter
- zest of an orange and a lemon
- some port wine (1-2 tsp)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- a pinch of salt
- nuts, dried fruit or whatever you prefer as a filling (in our case 100g roasted hazlenut, 200g almons, some sunflower seeds caramelised in butter and sugar, as well as dried apricots). I will admit that I chose these ingredients spontaneously following a peek at what was available in our cupboard 🙂
Preparing the yeast
The first step is easy.
Mix the yeast into the lukewarm milk and add 125g flour. Simply stir until you get a smooth mixture.
Let the dough proof in a warm place for about 1 hour. The volume should have about doubled, leave to proof a little while longer if required.
The base batter for the Bolo Rei
For the base batter, you will need all the ingredients except the fruit, nuts or fillings. It can be used for all the various types of Bolo Rei.
The dough is quite firm, but it will soften up the longer it is kneaded. This may take up to 15 minutes if kneaded by hand, but will probably be a little quicker with an electric mixer. In our case, our youngest son took over this job, and I think baking together as a family is always the best way to do it.
After kneading, the dough will have to proof for another 1.5-2 hours. Again, the volume should about double.
When the base batter is ready, you can get creative. You can either roll out the dough (it should not stick), cover it with cream filling and then roll it back up from the longer side. Leave some space around the rim, a little eggwhite can help hold the roll together. Shape the roll into a ring.
Or you can do what we did and simply mix the rest of the ingredients into the batter. Afterwards, you can simply form the ring with your hands. Leave the ring to proof for another 1.5 hours.
If you want to, you can then cover the Bolo Rainha in a little bit of egg yolk, and bake it in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 25-30 minutes. Stay strong when the delicious aroma starts to fill your kitchen – it will be worth the wait.
We wish you a merry Christmas!, Bom Natal! and would love to host you in our holiday home if you would ever like to discover Portugal yourself.
Still hungry? Find more delicious recipes here: