Bolo Rei The King of Christmas Desserts

It wouldn’t be Christmas in Portugal without a Bolo Rei Around the Family Table.  Some will even go as far saying there is no Christmas without Bolo Rei.

Although it is called a cake. Bolo Rei  is more like a sweet bread.  Traditionally there is a broad bean, usually large fava bean, and a coin placed inside the Bolo Rei.

One of the explanations for the tradition comes from a legend regarding the Three Kings as they followed the Star of Bethlehem on their way to greet baby Jesus.  On their travels, they met a baker who gave them a loaf of bread with a broad bean hidden inside it.  He told them that the one who ended up with the slice of bread with the bean should give baby Jesus his present first.

So the tradition continues and it is made clear that whoever ends up with the bean is expected to make the Bolo Rei for the following year.

Whoever wins the coin is said to be blessed with good luck.   Hmmmm….wonder why I always wind up with the bean?

We had so much fun baking Bolo Rei with Vovo.  Although this is a time consuming recipe, it is totally worth it to do once a year.  I love the tradition behind it and love that three generations spend the day baking Around the Family Table.

All of Vovo’s recipes are in Portuguese, so the first thing we had to do is figure out the conversions.  Thank good Alexandra and Vo are so smart and figured it all out!


 

 

 

 

 

 

Port wine is a big part of any dessert in Portugal.  Bolo Rei is no different.  We soaked our dates, candied fruit and nuts in it for this recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riley helps us get started by measuring the flour and sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it’s time to get serious. The kneading of the dough is no easy task and we all have to take turns. Vovo goes first.  After a while she is exhausted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it’s Reis’s turn. What a workout!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Vovo and Reis are completely exhausted, Vo comes to the rescue! Truly a team effort by all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dough must be left to rise over night.  We couldn’t believe how much it had grown!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we shaped the dough  into a ring and it is so much fun to decorate.  We used candied fruit and Natural Delights Medjool Dates added the perfect touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, we couldn’t just make one.  One for our home, one for Vovo and Vo’s home and one to share with friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Bolo Rei is ready for the oven.  We can’t wait to try it.  The best part is that after a couple of days, you can toast it and add a butter and it is perfect with a cup of coffee or afternoon tea.

BOLO REI

1/2 Cup candied citrus fruit 3 T. raisins  1/2 Cup Pine Nuts and Walnuts

1/3 Cup plus 2 Teaspoons Port Wine

2 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast 

1/3 Cup plus 2 teaspoons milk

3 1/2 Cups unbleached flour

1 1/2 teaspoon salt 

7 Teaspoon unsalted butter, softened 

1/3 Cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar 

Grated zest of 2 oranges

3 eggs, beaten 

1 dried fava bean and Large Coin 

Topping:

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water 

10 candied cherries 

1 package of Natural Delights Medjool Dates 

Powdered sugar for garnish 

To prepare bread: 
Soak candied fruit, raisins and pine nuts in Port Wine overnight or until plump. Sprinkle yeast into milk in bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve.

Mix flour and salt in large bowl. Make well in center and pour in dissolved yeast. Use wooden spoon to draw enough flour into dissolved yeast to form soft paste. Cover bowl with dish towel and let stand until “sponge” is frothy and slightly risen, about 20 minutes.

In separate bowl, beat butter with sugar and lemon and orange zests until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat well after each addition. Add mixture to flour mixture and mix in flour from sides to until dough is soft. 

 Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until soft, smooth, silky and elastic, about 10 minutes. Knead in dried fruit and pine nuts until evenly distributed.


Place dough into clean bowl and cover with dish towel. Let rise until doubled in size. We usually let it sit overnight, but as little as 2 hours is usually ok. Punch down, then let rest 10 minutes. Shape dough into ring and place on buttered baking sheet. Wrap dried fava bean or trinket separately in wax paper. Insert tiny package into bottom of shaped dough. Cover with dish towel and set aside until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
To prepare topping:
Brush dough with egg glaze and decorate with candied fruit and powdered sugar. Bake at 350°F. 45 minutes until golden.  Cool on wire rack.
Makes 1 Loaf


Kid Ratings: Alexandra 10, Ronnie 9, Reis 9.5, Riley 8.5

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Santa Claus is always in Vovô’s Kitchen

My Mom is a true baker.  She is passionate about her desserts.  You will never stop by her house without having some type of homemade delicacy waiting for you.  I literally mean, never! My Dad has such a sweet tooth, it is unbelievable.

My kids will tell you that stopping by Vovô’s and Vô’s house is like visiting Mr. and Mrs. Claus.  They are always jolly, full of love and there are always treats waiting for them.  It is such a pleasure to gather Around the Family Table at their home.

I spent the day yesterday cooking in Vovô’s Cozinha. What a great day we had cooking  traditional Portuguese Christmas Desserts. The kids were all in school so it was just the three of us.  It was so wonderful to hear them talking about their childhood and  the tradition behind each recipe.  Both in their 70’s and coming to the US from Portugal, their life truly has been a journey.  They love to talk about it and I love to listen.

It’s hard to believe that their Mother’s didn’t own electric mixers.  They would mix the batters by hand. Their ovens were brick ovens built into the wall. I can still remember watching my Grandmother bake bread and I couldn’t wait for it to come out of the great big wood burning oven.  It was hard and crusty on the outside and soft and light on the inside.  Add a tad of butter….mmmm… to this day, it is still one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten.

I love traditions and there is nothing more valuable than spending time doing what you love with your Family.

Filhozes are a traditional Christmas Dessert in Portugal.  It wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without having them on your dessert table. They are made with Flour, Eggs, Orange Zest and Pumpkin.  They are just amazing!

This recipe has been in my Mom’s family for generations and will continue to be passed down.

FILHOZES

4 Cups of Flour

2 Cups of cooked Pumpkin pureed or 1 16 oz can of Pumpkin

Juice of 2 Oranges and zest of the outside of one

3 Eggs

1 package of Active Dry Yeast 

1/4 Cup of Port Wine or Brandy

1/4 Cup of Reserved Pumpkin water or plain water

Oil for frying

Cinnamon and powdered Sugar 

  • Cook Pumpkin and puree with food processor (if using fresh pumpkin.) Reserve water.
  • Mix Pumpkin, Orange Juice, Orange Zest, Eggs
  • Shift Flour and Yeast and add to the pumpkin mixture, one spoon at a time
  • Mix flour and all ingredients are mixed well
  • Set aside for at least one hour to rise
  • Heat oil in fryer or frying pan
  • Dip mixture into the oil by the tablespoon
  • Fry until golden brown
  • Drain on paper towels 
  • Sprinkle with Cinnamon and Sugar while warm

Aren’t they amazing?  Who would think that the combination of Flour, Pumpkin and Orange could be this delish!

Kids Ratings: Alexandra 10, Ronnie 9, Reis 10, Riley 9.5