Traditional Portuguese Recipes: Bolo-Rei (King Cake)

Bolo Rei
Photo: shutterstock_GV_Natalia Mylova
Traditional Portuguese Recipes: Bolo-Rei (King Cake)


First dough

  • 500 gr type 55 wheat flour
  • 50 gr baker’s yeast 
  • 2.5 dl water

Second dough

  • 1 kg flour
  • 350 gr sugar
  • 350 gr margarine
  • 20 gr salt
  • 6 eggs
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • Zest of 2 lemons

To scent the dough to taste

  • 2.0 dl Artisanal black beer
  • 2.0 dl Licor Beirão (Beirão Liqueur)
  • 2.0 dl Anise Liqueur
  • 2.0 dl Aguardiente
  • 2.0 dl Port Wine
  • 2.0 dl Triplesec
  • 600 gr crystallized fruits (in small pieces)
  • 500 gr dried fruits


  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • Crystallized pumpkin of various colours to taste
  • Crystallized figs
  • Crystallized tangerines
  • Crystallized cherries
  • Almonds cut into sticks

Sugar clumps

  • 100 Sugar
  • 100 Icing Sugar
  • Water to taste


Start by kneading the first dough, which shall serve as yeast. Reserve it. 

Knead all other ingredients of the second dough (except the dried fruits and the crystallized fruits) for 5 minutes. 

Add the first dough and knead until the dough unsticks from the mixer’s recipient. 

Roll the dough in a counter, add the dried and crystallized fruits. Knead by hand until they are all well combined. 

Let the dough rest during the night in the cold.

In the morning, divide into portions and make a hole in the middle of each portion so their shape is similar to a donut and let rise (similar to a brioche). Once risen, brush with a mix of eggs and yolks.


Garnish with the crystallized pumpkin of various colours, the crystallized figs, the crystallized tangerines and the crystallized cherries. Mix the sugars (garnish) and add enough water to create a sugar clump when you press it. Place three of them on top of the cake. Place the almonds cut into sticks around the cake where it is not garnished.

Cook in the over at 180ºC.


* Recipe provided by the Tourism and Hotel Business School of Lisbon, based in the traditional recipes of Maria de Lourdes Modesto

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