Bolo do Rei – traditional Christmas cake from Lisbon

If you spend Christmas holidays in Lisbon you will notice that in the average Portuguese family the Christmas party is not complete without a Bolo do Rei (King’s Cake) on the table.

DThe Bolo do Rei, a traditional Portuguese cake, has its origin in French, from the galette des rois. In the 19th century Confeitaria Nacional the first Bolo do Rei in Portugal. No wonder that they were the official bakery of the Portuguese Royal court.

Find the broad bean and buy Bolo do Rei next year

The bolo do Rei looks very nice. The cake is baked in a turban shape (this symbolizes a crown) with caramelised and dried fruit, nuts, raisins and a dried fava bean, or broad bean. The tradition states that the one who finds the bean in the cake, buys the cake for the family for the next year!

Not a fan of dried fruit? Then there is also the Bolo Rainha (Queen’s cake). This is almost the same as Bolo do Rei, but then with nuts and raisins.

Confeitaria Nacional: the best Bolo de Rei

Confeitaria Nacional not only baked the first Bolo de Rei, they also still make the best. I have a love-hate relationship with the cake. Some are so delicious that the cake doesn’t make it til Christmas. That includes the Bolo de Rei from Confeitaria Nacional! But sometimes the Bolo de Rei can be quite soggy and moist. Those I’m not a big fan of.

The best tip for acquiring a good Bolo de Rei: get one at a bakery or a pastelaria! That’s your best chance of having success for this Portuguese Christmas tradition.

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