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Are you looking for typical Portuguese cakes?

Are you looking for typical Portuguese cakes?

Culture, Food and Beverage, history

Bolo Rei is what you need then!

But be careful! Even if it is now considered a ‘masterpiece’ among Portuguese cakes, traditionally eaten during the Christmas period, its country of origin is France.

Translated as ‘King Cake’, it arrived in Portugal only during the mid-nineteenth century, and it is eaten on the 25th of December (Nativity) and on the 6th of January (Epiphany).

The bread-like cake has the shape of a crown, round with a hole in the center, and it is decorated with crystalized fruits and nuts. The ingredients on the top symbolize the Magi’s gifts to newborn Jesus in Bethlehem. The Magi were then defined by the Church as Kings: this is why Bolo Rei has this name.

The main ingredients that Bolo Rei features are nuts and candied and dried fruits. Moreover, there is one single fava bean: according to a legend, it has been added in order to let the Magi decide who among them would give the gifts to Jesus: who found the fava in his slice of the cake was the chosen one.

Nowadays there is a shift in the meaning: who will find the fava bean will be responsible for buying or baking the cake next year.

This fascinating story is not the only version that is known, though: another one tells that the cake was referred to the celebration of the new year and the fava bean inside would identify the person responsible to bake or buy another cake for the “Dia de Reis”, January 6th.

Identified later as a Christmas cake, there are many varieties: “Rainha”, the traditional one, only with dried fruits, and “Escangalhado” with dried fruits, “fios de ovos” and “doce de gila” on a “squarish shape”.

One of the most ancient and traditional places in which you can buy Bolo Rei is Confetaria Nacional in Praça da Figueira. 

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