Bolo Rei and Porto, Portugal

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all have a great year!!
Here is my first post in 2019 with the revised Bolo Rei recipe for Epiphany. Now I’m  writing this eating the cake – too good to stop!


Upon arrival in Porto after Lisbon and Coimbra, I launched another eating project.

Porto by the River Douro

The first target was Pastel de Nata as I wrote last October, and Bolo Rei was the next. I had always wanted to have the authentic one since I tried the recipe and posted it here two years ago.

My Bolo Rei baked in 2016

Bolo Rei, or King Cake (or King’s Cake, Kings’ Cake), is a traditional Portuguese cake typically eaten during Christmas time until 6th of January. My visit being in September, I had done lots of research in advance – as usual – if it is obtainable even in summer.

Pastelaria Itaipú

I explored the town, finding five bakeries/pastry shops with Bolo Rei. Can you imagine how much I got excited when came across the cake for the fist in my life? 😀

Pastelaria Cristo Rei
Confeitaria do Bolhão

I had assumed that Petúlia might sell Bolo Rei all year round, and I was right! It has a tea room attached, so I enjoyed a slice along with proper English black tea – they have Tetley’s. Yay!

Confeitaria Petúlia

Their cake was so scrumptious that I couldn’t resist to bring a whole – about 2 kilos – back to Japan with me. I am sure the fragrant smell, especially of Port wine, filled in the train carriage and aircraft cabin tempted the passengers 🙂

@ Confeitaria Petúlia

I had another ‘things to do’ in Porto: to do Portuguese traditional grocery store hopping, and also to purchase marmelada, or quince jelly/paste, and some stuff for Bolo Rei.

Portuguese traditional grocery stores are a wonder! You will be fascinated by the wide variety of products: deli, traditional Portuguese foods, products from the local, ex-colonies including Brazil etc. I wish I had had more time to examine each item!

The names of some stores, as well as the commodity such as spices, teas, etc., are reminiscent of Portuguese discoveries derived from their maritime exploration.

A Pérola do Bolhão with an impressive art nouveau style façade

Pérola means pearl, which was one of the luxury goods through the trade with the Orient and South America in those days.

Casa Chinesa

Chinesa means Chinese.

Japão is Japan.

O Pretinho do Japão sells good selection of tinned fish, Port wines, teas and coffees, and I bought a herbal tea. They have a cafe with a lovely garden at the back.
Comer e Chorar Por Mais – The hams, sausages, cheeses etc. looked good.
Comer e Chorar Por Mais didn’t have Broa, Portuguese cornbread, but the rye bread was really tasty.

My favourite was Casa Natal. The interior space is beautifully organised – the walls are covered by wooden cabinets and shelves filled neatly with goods. One of the shopkeeper was really friendly and helped me to choose the proper ingredients for Bolo Rei, which were in good quality and I liked the dried figs from Douro Valley most. Oh, marmelada was nice as well.

Love Portugal tin packaging design
bacalhau
spices

 

Talking of Porto and Bolo Rei, Port wine is a must! I bought a bottle of Dow’s 10 Year Old Tawny not only for the cake but also for Stilton cheese 🙂

3 Port wine tasting @ Quinta do Bomfim in PinhãoDouro Valley
Dow’s 10 Year Old Tawny @ Quinta do Bomfim

 

Thank you for waiting. Here is the recipe, which needed to be revised because I had experienced the genuine taste!

Ingredients

For the dough
70 g assorted crystallised fruits (incl. 20 g orange), to chop if necessary
35 g raisin
30 g dried fig, roughly chopped
4 tbsp Port wine*
1 tbsp dark rum*

80 g full fat milk, lukewarmed
5 g honey
3 g instant yeast**
125 g strong white flour

50 g unsalted butter, room temperature
30 g caster sugar
15 g honey
2 g sea salt
2 egg yolk, whisked and room temperature

100 g plain wholemeal flour
25 g strong white flour
3 g instant yeast**
½ tsp lemon zest
½ tsp orange zest
20 g sliced almond, lightly toasted
20 g walnut, roughly chopped
20 g pine nuts
(optional: a dried broad/fava bean)

For the topping
egg white
crystallised fruits of your choice

For the glaze
20 g honey
15 g water

For the decoration
icing sugar

*  If you use good quality Port wine, add 5 tbsp without rum.
** Use yeast for doughs high in sugar/sweet breads (I used SAF Golden Instant Yeast).

Method

  1. Soak the crystallised fruits, figs and raisins in the Port wine and rum for 1-2 hours. Drain well and set aside.
  2. Dissolve the honey in the lukewarm milk, scatter in the 3 g yeast and allow to sit for 7 minutes. Stir well and leave another 8 minutes.
  3. Tip the 125 g strong flour into a bowl, and pour in the yeasty milk to mix. Knead by hand for 15 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Pour in some more lukewarmed milk a little at a time if required. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a bowl, and cover with a damp tea towel or clingfilm. Allow to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Punch down the dough gently to degas.  Shape into a ball, place back in the bowl and cover again and sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Mix well with the wholemeal flour, the rest of strong white flour and the instant dried yeast, and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, honey and salt until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flours to combine. Then tear the dough ball into small pieces and add in the batter making sure it is evenly blended together, using your hand and create a sticky dough. Knead by hand for 20-30 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Put in the zests and soaked fruits, and knead for another 5 minutes or so. Add the nuts (and a fava bean) and lightly mix until all the fruits and nuts are evenly covered by the dough.
  5. Line a baking tray with baking paper and scatter over some strong flour. Scrape the dough on to the tray, shape into a round loaf (about 20 cm in diameter), and make a hole in the centre. Place a cup or something in the middle so that the dough maintains its wreath shape. Cover with a damp tea towel or clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for about 90-105 minutes or until it has 1.5 times in size.
  6. Preheat oven to 190. Brush it all with the egg white and decorate with cristallised fruits. Covered again and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 25-30 minutes in the oven. Cover with aluminium foil if the surface becomes too brown (Do not burn the fruits!).
  7. Meanwhile, to make the glaze, put the honey and water in a small pan over low heat. Stir until completely melted and slightly thickened. Remove the cake from the oven, and carefully lift out and place on a wire rack. Immediately brush the honey over the cake. Cool completely and dust with the icing sugar.
  8. Store in an airtight container any leftovers, but finish in a couple of days. (To revive leftover or slightly stale Bolo Rei, toast lightly.)

 

Hope you like my Bolo Rei!

My experimental Bolo Rei

For the people who is going to Porto at Christmas time, here is ‘Where to buy Bolo Rei in Porto‘ tips.

 

8 thoughts on “Bolo Rei and Porto, Portugal

  1. Reading your post I realize how lucky we were to find Bolo Rei in May on display in a baker’s window in Porto near Boavista Place. We didn’t know of this wonderful confection before that. We also loved the grocery stores of Portugal. It was nice to arrive in a town, walk along to the nearest grocery store and discover all kinds of new things each time.

    Liked by 1 person

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