The Bolo de Mel cake became a popular confection when the island was an important sugar producer, since the cake itself is traditionally made with molasses instead of the now popular honey, which meant it could be stored for up to 5 years.
When made with molasses the cake is very dark in color and has a spongy sticky texture resembling a soft cookie. The cake often has walnuts and almonds mixed within it. When it is served it is customary in Madeira not to cut the cake, but rather to tear pieces off using the hands.
Bolo de Mel is traditionally made during Christmas often in a large enough batch that it can be enjoyed throughout the year.