Bolo Rei - Portuguese King Cake Recipe
Bolo Rei - Portuguese King Cake
Flavors of Portugal
Total time: more than 2 hours

Macerating time: several days
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Rising time: 5 + 1 hours
Baking time: 50 minutes



Difficulty: Easy
Chef's Note

This colorful king cake dates back to late 19th century Lisbon. The craze for this sweet bread with candied fruit starts about a week before Christmas and lasts until Epiphany (Three Kings Day). 

The Portuguese prepare it in advance and it's not unusual to see it gracing the table well before Epiphany.

Beside the bean hidden in the crumb, there is always a little surprise wrapped in thin paper.

There is no king or queen, but the person who finds the bean is supposed to provide the bolo rei the next year. 

- 150 g sugar
- 150 g butter
- 750 g flour
- 30 g yeast
- 20 ml milk
- 4 eggs
- pinch of salt

- 150 g candied fruit
- 150 g dried fruit, including raisins
- pine nuts, walnuts, almonds (optional)
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 1 orange
- 100 ml Port

- candied fruits
- slivered almonds
- icing sugar

- 1 little surprise
- 1 bean
  1. Finely dice the candied and dried fruits and macerate in port with the pine nuts, walnuts and almonds for several days before making the bolo rei.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in 100 ml warm water; add 1 cup (125 g) flour and let rest 15 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, beat the butter and sugar in a bowl; add the citrus zests and then the eggs, one at a time. Finally, mix in the yeast mixture.
  4. When the mixture is well combined, mix in the remaining flour and the salt.
  5. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. 
  6. Gently mix in the filling, including the liquid.
  7. Form into a ball, dust with flour and place in the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 5 hours.
  8. Place the dough on a buttered floured baking sheet and form into a crown (you can also use a mold). If the dough sticks, add a bit more flour without overworking it.
  9. Hide the little surpirse and the bean in the dough. Let rise again for 1 hour.
  10. Brush the bread with egg yolk thinned with a spoonful of water. Garnish with candied fruits, colored sugar and nuts. 
  11. Bake in a 180° C (350° F) for about 50 minutes, checking for doneness with the tip of a knife.
  12. Once baked, brush the cake with jelly dissolved with a little hot water.
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