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.

 

Christmas Markets in Germany and Riga 2017

It has been too hectic for the last three months to come here and read your posts – sometimes I had to work at weekends. Sorry guys, but I will try to catch up during this festive period.

The photos below are from my Christmas market tour last year. Hope you all have a very happy holiday season!!

 

Dresden

I was dreaming of a white Christmas…, but no snow!

If you are going to purchase a Dresdner Christstollen, try Schreiber ‘s!!

 

Nürnberg

 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber 

Snow in Rothenburg!!!

 

München

Made a visit to Munich on the day of Krampus!

Krampus

 

Augsburg

Also chose the day to see Das Engelsspiel.

Engelsspiel / Angel Performance

 

Koblenz

 

Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler 

 

Ahrweiler Markt

 

Riga

No snow even in Riga!

Believe or not, but it is said that the first ever Christmas tree was set-up and decorated in market square, Riga in 1510.

Monument to the First Christmas Tree on the plaque marking the site of the first New Years (Christmas) tree ceremony

Bolo Rei – King’s Cake and Lisbon

Bolo Rei, or King’s Cake, is a traditional Portuguese cake usually eaten around Christmas, from 25th of December until Epiphany, 6th of January (This reminded me of my Kutia, Ukrainian Christmas Eve Pudding.)

Bolo Rei is a sweet rich fruit bread – rather than a cake – baked with raisins, various nuts and crystallised fruits. Also included is a dried fava bean, and the tradition dictates that whoever finds the fava has to pay for the cake next year. (Wikipedia)

As you can easily imagine from the name of and fève in Galette des Rois for Epiphany, Bolo Rei is originally from France although it looks like Frankfurter Kranz. (Click here to learn more about Boro Rei from a video.)

I didn’t know anything about Bolo Rei, but a Postcrosser in Lisbon gave me a recipe on the web, and it has stood by to be posted here since last August!!

My Bolo Rei with postcards from Postcrossers in Lisbon and my Portugal postcard collection.

The first try didn’t work out that much – the dough turned out to be hard rock buns 😀 so I changed plain to strong flour. Also altered some ingredients, quantities and process but I basically followed the recipe.

Ingredients

For the dough
85 g assorted crystallised fruits, to chop if necessary
35 g raisin
2 tbsp port wine
1 tbsp rum

35 ml lukewarm water
1 tsp caster sugar
½ tbsp dried yeast
50 g strong white flour

50 g butter, room temperature
50 g caster sugar
1 egg and 1 egg yolk, whisked

100 g strong white flour
100 g plain wholemeal flour
25 ml lukewarm milk
½ tsp lemon zest
½ tsp orange zest
20 g sliced almond
20 g walnut, chopped
10 g pine nuts
(optional: a dried broad/fava bean)

For the topping
1 egg white
crystallised fruits of your choice

For the glaze
50 g icing sugar
25 g honey (I used orange blossom honey)
2 tbsp water

Method

  1. Soak the crystallised fruits and raisins in the port wine and rum for 1-2 hours. Drain well and set aside.
  2. Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the lukewarm water, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Tip the 50 g strong flour into a bowl, and pour in the yeasty water to mix. Knead by hand for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Pour in some more water 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 60 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Remove the dough from the bowl, and punch down gently to degas. Shape into a ball, place back in the bowl and cover again and sit for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg a quarter at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flours until just combined and stir in the milk to mix well. Then add the yeast mixture to the dough making sure it is evenly blended together, using your hand and create a sticky dough. Put in the zests, nuts and soaked fruits (and a fava bean). Lightly mix until all the fruits and nuts are evenly covered by the dough. Cover with a damp tea towel or clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for about one hour or until it has doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 190 C.
  5.  Knead the dough for about one minute. Scrape the dough on to a greased baking tray, shape into a round loaf (about 20 cm in diameter) , and make a hole in the centre. Brush it all with the egg white. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes. Cover with aluminium foil if the surface becomes too brown. Remove from the oven, brush the top surface again with the egg white and decorate with cristallised fruits. Put back into the oven, and bake for a few minutes (Do not burn the fruits!). Carefully lift out and place on a wire rack.
  6. To make the glaze, put the icing sugar, honey and water in a small pan over low heat. Stir until completely melted and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and spoon over the cake.
So far I have received two postcards from Lisbon, which are my faves.

Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe, dear Postcrossing friend in Lisbon. I’m sure to make this again whether it’s Christmas/Epiphany or not!


I have been wishing to revisit Lisbon…. Night Train to Lisbon, both the novel and the film, added fuel to the wish. Once I planned train journeys from Nice to Lisbon via San Sebastian but it hasn’t come off yet.

What I enjoyed most in Lisbon are:

city views from above

trams

tram-3

and steep slopes of narrow streets and alleys. Above all, the slopes up to the B&B I stayed at. Whichever the labyrinthine alleys I took, I could go back to the place, which was really fun!

MUST STAY in LISBON

Casa Costa do Castelo is located at the foot of Castelo de São Jorge, or Saint George’s Castle, which offers gorgeous views by day and night.

A Room with a view

MUST EAT in LISBON

I happened to find Fonte das Sete Bicas when exploring Alfama. It is a small family run restaurant  like a trattoria, and many locals were in for lunch. You can enjoy dishes at reasonable price – I paid 8 – 9 euros for one course with bread and salad, a glass of wine, dessert and coffee (as of 2009)!

Cozido à Portuguesa, Portuguese stew with several kinds of meats and vegetables.
pudim flan

According to Tripadvisor reviews, their fish dishes look also nice.

At another restaurant, Sardinhas Assadas, Vinho Verde and Vinho do Porto satisfied me a lot…. Must go back to Lisboa!!

Kutia – Ukrainian Christmas Eve Pudding

In early December, I received an ideal postcard for this time of year from a Postcrosser in Ukraine – a recipe card of Kutia or Kutya, a traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve dish. I picked this out for the fifth try (as for the 4th, pls read Grechka Soup), and have saved it until today.

kutia postcard

As usual, browsed the unfamiliar dish on the internet and learnt that:

Kutia is a sweet grain pudding, traditionally served in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and some parts of Poland. Sochivo, a dish similar to kutia, is very popular in Russia. Kutia is often the first dish in the traditional twelve-dish Christmas Eve supper (also known as Svyatah Vecherya). It is rarely served at other times of the year.

Kutia was also part of a common Eastern Orthodox tradition in the Russian Empire….  (from Wikipedia)

The Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on 7th of January, so Kutia is supposed to be eaten on 6th January. The sweet dish seems like dessert, but served first out of the twelve! Kutia is very auspicious because the ingredients such as wheat berries, poppy seeds and dried fruits symbolise abundance, fertility and prosperity.  (This is like we eat Kazunoko, or herring roe for New Year’s.) Someone mentions on the web that the dish is traditionally eaten with a wooden spoon, but not clear if it’s a special one for Kutia….

It sounds like ‘porridge’ rather than ‘pudding’…. I’m fond of porridge and eat it for breakfast whenever in Scotland, so I happily gave it a try.

 

Ingredients

( For 2-3 servings)

125 g pearl barley, well rinsed and soaked in water overnight
400 cc water (plus 100 cc to adjust)
a pinch of salt
25 g raisins
30 g poppy seeds
50 g honey
50 g walnuts, roughly chopped
25 g dried apricots, chopped

kutia

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150 C.
  2. Drain and put the barley in a pan with salt and 400 cc water, then bring to the boil over low heat.
  3. Place the barley into an uncovered baking dish with the boiled water, and cook in the oven for 60 mins or until the barley becomes tender. Stir occasionally and add 100 cc water little by little as required to prevent sticking and drying out.
  4. Meanwhile,  place the poppy seeds in a pan with adequate water and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 mins.  Drain through fine sieve, then grind the seeds with a food/coffee grinder (or something). Set aside.
  5. Rinse the raisins and soak in boiled water for 10 minutes, then drain and dry.
  6. Combine everything and mix well.

 

kutia

 

I basically followed the recipe, but altered a bit: reduced quantities of the ingredients, and added some procedures and ingredients. Pearl barley was used instead of wheat berries, which I couldn’t find anywhere, and a baking dish as a substitute for a cray pot.

I should have ground the seeds more finely! They are so tiny that my Suribachi, a Japanese mortar and pestle for sesame seeds, didn’t work well 😦 Anyway, it doesn’t matter as it tasted good. Not sweeter than imagined – omitted sugar from the recipe! – and the sourness of the apricot gives it a good kick. I like the crispy and chewy texture and nutty flavour of the walnuts in the slightly sticky and soft ingredients.

Kutia is one of the twelve-dish supper, which represents the 12 apostles, containing no meat or dairy…. Well, it’s not 6th or 7th January yet, so I unhesitantly poured some heavy cream over the pudding! 🙂

Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe, dear Postcrossing friend in Ukraine! I’m wishing you blessings and joy this Christmas, and hope your dream comes true.

And also thanks a million to another friend in Ukraine for the information and advice. I’m looking forward to your letter!

 

Ukrainian stamp

 

kutia on table

Stollen Teabread

Just wanted to bake something for the upcoming Christmas. Stollen was one of the options, but I usually buy some loaves of ‘NICE’ stollen from my favourite bakery. Hmmmm…. One day, a friend of mine gave me  a piece of Starbucks’s Stollen Cake, which was really good! so I decided to make something similar.

Starbucks's Stollen Cake
Starbucks’s Stollen Cake

Ingredients

150 – 200 cc dark rum
50 g dried figs
50 g raisins
50 g dried cranberries
30 g candied orange peel
30 g candied lemon peel

dried fruit soaked in rum

200 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground mixed spice
100 g butter
85 g soft light brown sugar
100 g marzipan, cut into cubes
25 g flaked almonds, lightly toasted
2 eggs

To decorate:
25 g butter, melted
20 g icing sugar
dried or glacé cherries
holly springs, washed and dried

stollen teabread

Method

  1. Soak the figs, raisins, cranberries, orange and lemon in the dark rum overnight. Drain the fruits, and chop roughly the peels and figs.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  3. Tip the flour and baking powder into a bowl, and using fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, mixed spice, almond flakes and marzipan.
  4. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and put in the soaked fruits. Stir into the flour mixture and combine well.
  5. Spoon the dough into a lined loaf tin/dish and bake for 60 mins until well risen and golden brown, or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven. Brush with a half of the melted butter and dust with a half of the icing sugar.
  7. Allow it to cool for 10 mins, then remove from the dish and place it on to a wire rack. And again, brush the rest of butter and sift the icing sugar over the loaf. Cool completely.
  8. Decorate with the cherries and holy springs. If necessary, dust with icing sugar a little more before the decoration.

Hmmmmm… looks like a Christmas fruit loaf rather than a stollen cake…, but it does taste like stollen, and soooo good – even better? 😀 – with the flavour of rum, mixed spices, and chunks of marzipan. I found that, after it sits for a few days, it ripens and tastes better – it gets richer, more moist, and more flavourful. Do try this for the coming festivities!

stollen teabread loaf