Bolo Rei (English: “King Cake”) is a traditional Portuguese cake that is usually eaten around Christmas from 25 December until 6th of January. It is a staple dessert in any Portuguese home during the holidays. This cake itself is round with a large whole in the center covering beautifully with full of colorful crystallized and dried fruits and nuts to simblise as a Crown. Here I’ll show you how we make it in home easily with a step by step instructions. Please check out my video or recipe for the full process for this gorgeous and amazing looking festive cake. I hope you try. Let me know of anything on the comment box down below. Enjoy!
Preparations and resting time around 3 hours and 50 minutes then cooking time 45 minutes
Serves to around 25 to 30
Ingredients for 2 large size of Cakes (break ingredients half if you want to make only 1 cake)
700gr of plain Flour
200gr of plain Flour to add later and sprinkle on the baking tray.
150gr of Brown Sugar, it’s healthier and makes our cake richer.
150gr of Butter without salt
300gr of mix dried nuts, I use Pine nuts, Hazelnuts, Cashew nuts, Almonds, Brown, Dark and Golden Color Sultanas and Raisins.
200gr of mix Crystallized fruits chopped in small cubes
100gr of crushed Walnuts
30gr of Margarine to use for the baking tray
1 medium size Lemon zest
1 medium Orange zest
35gr of fresh Yeast or use 14gr dried Yeast
10gr of fine Salt
200ml of normal warm Milk
120ml of Porto Wine, but you can use Whisky, Beer or Brandy instead
For decoration we need …
200gr of Crystallized Fruits
70gr of Walnuts
And 50gr of Golden Raisins
2 Eggs to brush on the Dough
50gr of dried Plums
70gr of dried Figs chopped into half
70gr of Crystallized Cherries
50gr of Almond chopped into strips
And Honey and Powder Sugar to give a final touch
How to make it
Prepared all ingredients above with your preferable crystallized and dried fruits and dried nuts if you are making it only 1cake then break the ingredients above into half.
First into a bowl add yeast and crumble it, then add warm milk. Mix together until yeast dissolves in the Milk. After, cover it then set it aside in a warm place for at least 15 minutes.
Next into deep and large bowl, put mix dried nuts, Walnuts, cubes of Crystallized fruits with Porto wine. Mix them very well. Keep aside until we need.
Into a big deep bowl crack 5 eggs. Whisk it with a whisker until all combines well, no need to be so perfect and add the yeast and milk mixed. Melt the butter in Microwave 10 to 15 seconds then add in. Whisk them all well and set aside.
Now the dough, use a deep and big large bowl which you use for the whole process of dough making to not to make everything messy around. If you want then knead on the table after making rough dough in the bowl.
Into the bowl add 700gr of flour, sugar, salt, and Lemon and Orange zest then with a spatula mix all well until it combines. After all combines make a whole in the middle of the mix and pour the eggs batter into it. Then with the same spatula mix it clock wise inside out, taking a bit of flour each time which helps to combine it with the liquid evenly and fast. Takes 2 minutes then becomes rough dough. Then use your hand to knead it because it needs more strength. Knead it from out to inside, after 3 to 4 minutes the dough looks very soft so now start adding the extra flour little by little. Add little flour and knead it well, repeat the same process a few times and then knead it until it becomes smooth. Here you can use around 40% of flour if need it, it takes around 7 to 8 minutes when the dough becomes smooth and a thick consistency.
After the dough got smooth flatten it a bit and then add the wine soaked nuts. Mix it until all combines with the dough. After a couple of minutes mixing you can see again the dough becomes soft because of the wine. If so then add the flour little by little and mix it then give it a good knead until it combines and becomes smooth. Takes around 6 to 7 minutes, you could use almost 50% of the flour if need it, deppends how soft your dough is. Make the dough consistency still a bit loose and soft, not too hard, hard dough makes the cake very dry. The whole dough making process takes around 20 minutes.
When the dough is ready put all together with a dough scraper and sprinkle a bit flour on the dough to not stick when it rise. If you are kneading on the table surface then collect all dough then put it back into the bowl then sprinkle flour on it. The left over flour keep to dust in the baking tray.
Now dough is done. Cover it with warm and clean blankets or towel then keep it in a warm place to rest at least 3 hours or more and let yeast to do the work.
After 3 hours remove the towels and blankets out. You can see the dough raised 2 times more, it means the yeast really did its work. Next give it a touch to remove the air out. When all air goes out then cut it into half equal size and set aside then prepare the baking tray. On the surface of your baking tray spread the margarine, it needs to be in room temperature then dust it with the flour. It helps the cake to not stick on the tray and to be easy to remove after cooked.
Next put the dough on the tray and give it its shape, flatten it a bit first. And open it up in the middle and stretch it slowly to give an equal shape and thickness. It is fine to have a quite big hole, when it rest then it’s going to adjust to right size. Or you can give another shape if you prefer. Now cover it with another tray that shouldn’t touch the dough then let it rest for 20 minutes to adjust the shape and rise before start decorating. Cover the rest of the dough in the bowl to not dry then set aside for the next.
Next separate the egg yolks and white, yolks we are going to use to brush on the cake. And batter the yolks, set aside. Preheat the Oven in 180 degree centigrade or 350 Fahrenheit until it becomes very hot.
After 20 minutes! You can see the dough reduced the hole and raised a bit. With a brush, put the yolk batter on it evenly to help to stick our fruits decoration. After brushing start adding the fruits and nuts. First sprinkle almond strips all over the cake. Crystallized fruits and dried nuts and fruits, however you like. Then put it into Oven, then cook for 45 minutes for big cakes. Remember always depends on your Oven’s temperature and the size of your cake so don’t forget to check it out 5 minutes before the finish cooking.
After 40 minutes check the cake, use a skewer or tooth pick then check it out, poke in the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean then the cake is cooked. You can still cook 5 minutes more if you feel it need and make sure it isn’t burn. Take it out the cake from the oven then let it cool down a bit. After it cools down transfer to a serving plate then finish with powder sugar and drizzle some honey, it gives beautiful bright contrast to the cake. Instead of honey you can use other type of Jams. By now your cakes looks beautiful and Christmassy I suppose. Now your cake is ready. Enjoy the delicious Cake!
Note: The king cake will maintain its freshness for 3 to 4 days. If you're planning on serving the cake after 3-4 days later, then rap with plastic wrapper to not to let air in and keep it out of direct sunlight in a cool place. If you're wanting to keep it longer, I would suggest to put it in the freezer until you serve and then take it out 3 hours before serving, it will thaw and will be ready to serve.