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Portugal Bolo Rei

With its topping of brightly coloured candied fruit, this cake is modelled on the crowns of the Three Kings. It is best enjoyed with a glass of Port – straight from Portugal’s Douro Valley.

2 min reading time

Some bakers today still hide a bean somewhere in the cake dough. It is said that it will bring luck to whoever finds it – although sometimes they also have to pay the dinner bill. Rumour has it that this is why some beans are never found.


  • 1 kg all purpose flour
  • 42 g fresh yeast
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 200 g butter (at room temperature)
  • 250 ml milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 50 g candied orange
  • 50 g candied cherries
  • 100 g sultanas
  • 100 g dried dates or figs
  • 50 g pine nuts
  • 50 g shelled walnuts
  • Other candied fruit to taste (e.g. oranges or pears) to decorate the cake
  • 1 dried broad bean
  • Icing sugar


Warm half the milk, add a bit of salt and crumble in the yeast. Stir until the yeast is dissolved. Cover and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes to rise.

Mix the flour and the salt, and then add this along with the rest of the milk, the sugar , the warm butter and 5 eggs to the yeast mixture. Knead to form a smooth dough, then cover and leave in a warm place for an hour until risen.

Knead in the dried fruit, candied orange, sultanas, pine nuts and the dried broad bean if you wish and leave the mixture to rise for a third time. Make the dough into a fat roll and place on a greased sheet of baking parchment. Jon up the two ends of the roll to form a circle or crown on the baking tray.

Tip: Your crown should be about 30 cm in diameter. To make sure it keeps its shape when baking, cover a 5 cm cookie cutter or oven-proof mug with baking parchment and insert it in the middle of your crown.

Decorate the top of your crown with cherries and dried fruit, and sprinkle sugar over them. Separate the last egg, beat the yoke and use it to paint the top of your cake and the fruit. Bake for 30 minutes at about 180°C.

Portugal – a thumbnail sketch

Capital: Lisbon
Population: 10.3 million
EU member since: 1986
Famous Portuguese Europeans: Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission from 2004 to 2014); Maria Isabel Barreno, journalist and writer
Interesting facts: In 2019 Portugal was the EU’s biggest bicycle producer.