Bolo Rei is Portugal’s king of cakes. It’s traditionally eaten throughout the Christmas season, but mostly on January 6 which is known as King’s day.
The date is when the three kings arrived in Jerusalem to greet the newborn baby Jesus. The legend is that the three kings were disputing which one of them would be the first to give their gift to Jesus. Upon their travels they met a baker who baked a cake with a bean inside it.
Which ever one of them got the slice of cake with the bean would give their gift first. Through the years coins and trinkets were added to the cake instead of the bean which would bring good luck upon the bearer.
The cake was introduced to Portugal by the Confeitaria National bakery run by the Casteneira family for over 100 years.
Visit the website for the history of the origin of the recipe at confeitarianacional.com.
Bolo Rei recipe from: Cascaistravel.com
2 tbsp active yeast
2 tsp granulated sugar
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup finely chopped assorted crystallized fruit
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
2 tablespoons port wine
1 tablespoon rum
1 1/4 stick butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
4 cups all purpose plain wheat flour
1/3 cup warm milk
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp pine nuts
a dried broad bean (fava) wrapped in greaseproof paper (optional)
a small coin or other trinket (wrapped in greaseproof paper (optional)
Crystallized fruit of your choice, such as pineapple, cherries, or figs
Prepare the yeast mixture
In a small bowl mix together the yeast, sugar and flour and enough warm water to create a smooth dough. Cover and set aside to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size
For the Dough
In another bowl add the chopped crystallized fruit, raisins, grated lemon and orange peel, port wine and rum. Leave the fruit to soak up the liquid while you prepare the dough.
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, adding a little of the flour now and then if you feel the mixture will curdle. Using a spoon, gradually beat in half of the remaining flour and the milk.
Then add the yeast mixture to the dough making sure it is evenly blended together.
Add the almonds, walnuts and pine nuts and the crystallized fruit mixture.
Lightly mix in as much of the remaining flour as you need to create a sticky bread like dough and until all the fruit and nuts are evenly covered by the dough.
Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about one hour or until it has doubled in size.
Take the dough and knead for about one minute, then shape into a round loaf and place on a greased baking tray.
Using your thumbs, open up a hole in the middle of the dough so that you are left with a wreath shape, or crown, about 25cms wide. You can grease a small empty food jar with vegetable oil and place it in the middle of the wreath to keep the hole open while you work on the topping.
Make a hole with a knife on one side of the wreath and push the wrapped broad bean into the dough. Choose another spot on the wreath, make a hole with the knife and push the wrapped coin into the dough.
Decorate the wreath with a few crystallized fruits. Beat the egg and brush over the wreath. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about one hour or until it has doubled in size.
Remove the food jar and bake in a preheated over at 190 degrees C for about 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and dust with icing sugar.