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Portuguese Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe

Christmas and New Year in Lisbon

Portuguese Christmas Cake: A Delicious Festive Tradition

Indulging in the traditional Portuguese Christmas spirit means savoring the iconic Bolo Rei. This delightful fruit cake is an essential part of the holiday season, and a trip to Portugal without trying it would be like missing out on a quintessential Roman pizza while in Rome. Prepare your taste buds for a rich blend of flavors, textures, and festive charm with this beloved Portuguese Christmas fruit cake recipe.

Prepare to delight your taste buds with Bolo Rei, a delectable Portuguese treat that embodies the essence of the holiday season. This sweet bread is a true culinary masterpiece, boasting a sumptuous filling of almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, and plump raisins. Adorned with a captivating crown of candied fruit and a delicate dusting of icing sugar, Bolo Rei is a visual and gastronomic feast that will transport you to a world of festive indulgence. Immerse yourself in the joyous flavors and textures of this traditional Portuguese delicacy and experience the true essence of the holiday season.

Read more: Best Time to Visit Portugal.

Bolo Rei’s History

Let’s delve into the captivating history of Bolo Rei, a beloved Portuguese cake that has enchanted taste buds for over a century. The origins of this delectable treat can be traced back to 1875 when the renowned Confeitaria Nacional in Lisbon welcomed a skilled French pastry chef to its ranks. Drawing inspiration from the gâteau des Rois, a traditional cake from Toulouse, France, the pastry chef introduced Bolo Rei to Portugal.

Traditionally enjoyed from the first week of December until Epiphany, also known as the Three Kings Day on January 6, Bolo Rei carries a symbolic significance. It represents the gifts presented by the Three Kings to the Baby Jesus. The cake’s golden crust symbolizes the precious gift of gold, while the assortment of dried and crystallized fruits embodies the offering of myrrh. As you savor each delectable bite, the alluring aroma of the cake lingers in the air, reminiscent of the fragrant incense.

Celebrate the rich history and symbolic tradition of Bolo Rei as you partake in this iconic Portuguese delicacy. Embark on a culinary journey that intertwines culture, flavor, and festive spirit, and experience the joy of indulging in a treat that has stood the test of time.

Dive into the enchanting holiday spirit of Portugal and discover more about their festive traditions, including how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Portuguese. Unwrap the magic of the season with a journey into the heartwarming celebrations of this captivating country! Authentic Portuguese King CakeRead here.

How many calories have a slice of king cake with 100 gr?

Indulging in a slice of king cake weighing 100 grams brings with it a total of 310 calories. Enjoy this delightful treat with a sense of satisfaction as you savor each mouthwatering bite, knowing the balance between flavor and nutrition.

How to make a King Cake?

Read here our Authentic Portuguese King Cake Recipe.


1 kg of wheat flour
400 g of candied fruits (apple, cherry, orange, and fig) to decorate the top of the bread
350 g of dried fruits (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts (if you don’t eat pine nuts, you can use hazelnuts), raisins)
200 g of sugar
200 g of butter
200 ml of milk
Six eggs
100 ml of spirits (firewater or rum)
50 g of dried yeast
20 g of salt
Egg yolk wash to brush the top before baking
Icing sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling on top

Portuguese Christmas Fruit Cake RecipeINSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a glass, mix the warm milk, yeast, and salt.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and add the melted butter, yeast mix, and firewater.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour and sugar, and mix well.
  4. Add the egg with the yeast, and mix it into a dough.
  5. Add the dried fruits to the dough. Put in a warm area to let the dough rise for about an hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180.º C (about 350.º F).
  7. Form the dough into three crowns, brush with the egg yolk, and decorate with candied fruits.
  8. Bake each wreath separately on a buttered tray in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven. After 30 minutes, sprinkle with icing or granulated sugar.

Read here: Eco-Friendly Gift You Can Buy in Portugal.

I don’t eat candied fruit. Is there another Christmas Cake in Portugal?

If you’re not a fan of candied fruits, fear not! Portugal has an alternative Christmas cake called Bolo Rainha, or “queen cake.” This delectable treat is filled with a delightful mixture of nuts and dried fruits, making it the perfect choice for those seeking a different flavor profile. However, as culinary creativity evolves, you can now find even more options to suit your preferences. One such variation is the chocolate Bolo Rei, which combines the rich flavors of brioche and dark chocolate for an indulgent twist on the traditional recipe. With these alternatives, you can still enjoy the festive spirit and deliciousness of a Portuguese Christmas cake, tailored to your taste buds.

Bolo ReiIs Portuguese King Cake suitable for vegetarians?

Absolutely! Portuguese King Cake is indeed suitable for vegetarians. This delightful treat does not include any meat or fish products in its ingredients. So, vegetarians can indulge in the delicious flavors of this traditional cake without any concerns. The cake is typically made with a sweet bread base filled with a delightful assortment of nuts, dried fruits, and sometimes even chocolate. It is a wonderful option for vegetarians to enjoy during festive occasions or any time they crave a scrumptious and vegetarian-friendly treat.

Read here: Portugal New Year Breaks.

Is Bolo Rei suitable for vegans? Can I make this recipe without eggs?

While the traditional recipe for Bolo Rei does include eggs, it is possible to make a vegan version of this beloved Portuguese cake. However, it’s important to note that finding a vegan Bolo Rei in a traditional bakery might be challenging as it goes against conventional preparation methods.

Read more: Best Things to Eat in Portugal?

Is Bolo Rei gluten-free?

While the traditional Bolo Rei recipe is not gluten-free, there are alternative recipes available that cater to individuals with gluten sensitivities or those following a gluten-free diet.

To make a gluten-free Bolo Rei, you would need to substitute the wheat flour typically used in the recipe with a gluten-free flour blend. There are several gluten-free flour options available, such as rice flour, almond flour, or a pre-made gluten-free flour mix. These alternatives can provide a suitable texture and taste to the cake while ensuring it is safe for those avoiding gluten.

It’s important to note that when baking a gluten-free version of Bolo Rei, other ingredients such as baking powder, yeast, and any added fillings should also be gluten-free or carefully selected to avoid any cross-contamination.

By following a gluten-free recipe, individuals with gluten sensitivities or dietary restrictions can still enjoy the festive flavors and tradition of Bolo Rei without compromising their health or well-being. With the growing popularity of gluten-free baking, there are numerous resources and recipes available online to guide you in creating a delicious gluten-free Bolo Rei that everyone can enjoy.

Check out the best recipes:

Dive into the Gastronomic Delights of Portugal!

Christmas in PortugalIndulge in the captivating flavors of Portugal’s culinary treasures! Embark on a remarkable culinary adventure with our enticing food and wine tour in Portugal. Immerse yourself in the vibrant gastronomy and rich cultural heritage of this enchanting country.

Our carefully crafted cooking holidays are designed to cater to your every culinary desire. Whether you’re a seasoned food enthusiast or a passionate wine connoisseur, our tour offers a captivating blend of hands-on cooking experiences, tantalizing food tastings, and exclusive wine pairings.

Discover the secrets of traditional Portuguese recipes as our expert chefs guide you through immersive cooking classes. Learn to prepare iconic dishes bursting with authentic flavors, using the finest locally sourced ingredients. From savoring succulent seafood delights to relishing mouthwatering meat delicacies, each culinary experience will leave you craving more.

Indulge your taste buds with the finest Portuguese wines, carefully selected to complement each culinary masterpiece. Uncover the nuances of regional wine production, from the lush vineyards of the Douro Valley to the sun-kissed hills of the Alentejo region. Our knowledgeable sommeliers will guide you through exclusive wine tastings, allowing you to savor the exquisite flavors and discover hidden gems of Portugal’s winemaking heritage.

As you traverse picturesque towns and breathtaking landscapes, immerse yourself in the warmth of Portuguese hospitality. Our carefully curated itineraries provide a perfect balance of culinary exploration and cultural immersion. From strolling through vibrant local markets to savoring traditional delicacies in charming taverns, every moment will be a feast for your senses.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to embark on a culinary journey that will leave an indelible mark on your taste buds and create memories to last a lifetime. Book our culinary, food, and wine tour in Portugal today, and let the enchantment of Portugal’s gastronomy embrace you!

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