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Bolo Rei.jpg
Place of originPortugal
Main ingredientsFlour, eggs, butter, dried fruit, nuts, candied fruit

Bolo-rei, (lit. king cake) is a traditional Portuguese cake that is usually eaten around Christmas, from December 25 until Epiphany (Dia de Reis in Portuguese, literally "Kings' Day," a reference to the Three Wise Men), on 6 January. It is a staple holiday dessert in any Portuguese home.[1]


The bolo-rei recipe was derived from the French Gâteau des Rois which found its way to Portugal during the 19th century when Confeitaria Nacional[2] opened as Portuguese monarchy's official bakery in 1829. The Confeitaria was the first to introduce this recipe to the country.[3]

The cake itself is round with a large hole in the centre,[4] resembling a crown covered with crystallized and dried fruit.

The bolo-rei is baked from a soft, white dough, with raisins, various nuts and crystallized fruit. Also included is the characteristic dried fava bean, and tradition dictates that whoever finds the fava has to pay for the Bolo-rei next year.[5] A small prize (usually a small metal toy) was also included within the cake. The inclusion of the prize has been discontinued since the mid-90s, due to potential choking hazards.[6]


In 2009, a giant bolo-rei measuring about 70 metres (230 ft) and weighing around 200 kilograms (440 lb) was baked for the town of Olhão by pastry chef Filipe Martins of Pastelaria Kubidoce.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Portuguese Christmas Retrieved 12 August 2013
  2. ^ Bolo-Rei: The King of Portuguese Christmas Cakes Retrieved 12 August 2013
  3. ^ The Battle for Lisbon’s best pastry Retrieved 12 August 2013
  4. ^ A Foodie’s Guide to Christmas in Europe Retrieved 12 August 2013
  5. ^ Bolo Rei Portuguese Kings Cake – A treat for your Christmas table recipe Retrieved 12 August 2013
  6. ^ [1] ASAE - Portuguese Authority on Food Safety and Economy
  7. ^ Giant Bolo Rei offered to the people of Olhão Archived November 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 12 August 2013

External links[edit]