Bolo-rei! This word alone (meaning King Cake) is enough to put a Portuguese person in the Christmas mood. In fact, it isn’t Christmas for the Portuguese family if there is no bolo-rei at the table, from the beginning of December – that’s right, early December families get into the Christmas spirit.
The Portuguese Gastronomy is a world pearl. It is rich, it is varied, and it is simply delicious. And at Christmas, it seems that the Portuguese people improve a lot (if it is possible!). All around this country, the family tables are plentiful, colourful, full of incomparable and traditional sweets and desserts. The Portuguese people know… diets after the Christmas Eve. But right in the middle of such delicious delicacies which we can taste in Christmas time, there is a typical sweet that we should highlight. It is considered the most traditional and famous cake of Christmas. It is the King of the family table. It is the Bolo-Rei.
The Bolo-Rei is unmistakable: its round shape, with a hole in the centre like a crown, and its decoration with crystalized fruit on top make it irresistible. The Bolo-Rei is a Christmas sweet that is traditionally eaten between 25th December (Nativity) and January 6 (Epiphany). But its fame is so great and gorgeous that we can find this delicacy for sale from the beginning of November to the Epiphany!
The Bolo-Rei is a kind of sweet bread with eggs, filled with nuts, dried fruits, raisins and topped with candied fruit and powdered sugar. In essence, it is the tastiest version of fruitcakes.
Traditionally, there is also a fava bean inside the cake, usually a large bean. The family tradition says that who ever has the slice with the fava bean is the King and has to buy or bake next year’s cake. However, in order to avoid serious problems, nowadays the pastry shops choose not to put anything inside the cake beyond what you can actually eat.