Bolo Rei - Special Holiday Cake from Portugal

Bolo Rei - Xmas Cake

Note:  I assisted Christina with placing this yummy recipe from Portugal on the cookie swap.  I hope you will take the time to go visit her on Flickr. She will soon be posting pictures of the Nativity she has built in front of her home - you won't want to miss it.

Christine wrote the background information and the recipe. Enjoy.

We cannot speak of Christmas without speaking of the Bolo Rei (free translation: KingÂ’s cake), almost a must in all tables of the holiday season.

This cake is filled with symbolism. It is no coincidence that is shaped like a gloss on its crown and candied fruit. Legend has it that this sweet is the gifts offered by the Wisemen Christ child at birth. The crust symbolized gold, dried fruit and candied represented the myrrh, and the aroma of the cake the incense.

Even at the base of the imaginary, the existence of a bean also has its explanation: When the Wisemen saw the Star of Bethlehem which announced the birth of Christ, disputed among themselves which of the three would have the honor of being first to deliver the boy to gifts they brought.

As they could not reach an agreement and in order to put an end to the discussion, a cake baker hide a bean inside the cake and then each of them would take a slice and The Wisemen who had the good fortune to remove the slice containing the bean would earn the right to deliver his gifts to Jesus first.

The dilemma was solved, although it was not known wich one of them, Gaspar, Balthazar, or Belchior was the lucky winner.

Of course this is just a myth.

Bolo Rei has indeed emerged in France at the time of Louis XIV to the festivities of New Year and Epiphany.

Bolo Rei is not limited to a cake with great taste, it is actually a true symbol of this season! After learning about the history of this cake you are not willing for a slice?

Recipe for Bolo Rei

See conversion chart links in main post for the Cookie Swap



• 1 kg flour

• 40 g of yeast

• 1.5 dl milk

• 150 g sugar

• juice and zest of 1 orange

• 1 cup port wine

• 125 g butter, melted

• 4 egg yolks

• 2 eggs

• 1 dl beer

• 200 g candied fruit

• 100 grams of dried fruit

• flour for dusting

• lard for greasing

• egg for brushing

• candied fruit to decorate

• Powdered sugar for dusting?


Put the flour into a bowl. Open a hole in the center and pour in the yeast previously dissolved in warm milk. Knead well, make a ball and let rise (until doubled in volume).

Add the sugar, juice, zest of orange, port wine, butter, egg yolks, whole eggs and beer. Knead and beat the dough on a marble table.

Mix the fruit in the dough, form a ball, coat with flour and let rise again.

Divide dough into portions. 800 g of weight give a cake about 1 kg. With each piece make a ball and form a cake giving it the traditional shape.

Place the cakes on trays greased with lard, brush them with egg and decorate with candied fruit and mounds of powdered sugar.

Let them cook for about 50 minutes in oven at 170 degrees. Make sure they are cooked before removing from oven.

I have heard of this cake!

I have heard of this cake! And a friend of mine whose husband is Norwegian makes it in a big bundt cake pan, one of those fancy sculpted ones. I have never had this, but I would love to. Thanks for the recipe!

It's a treat checking out these sites by Scandinavians!