Bolo-Rei or Happy New Year at Bibliopharm!

Since it’s too early in the season to start planting in Zone 7a, what better way to kick off the new year with a Bolo-Rei or King Cake? Here’s my first attempt:

Bolo-Rei (King’s Cake)
Traditional Portuguese Bread of Christmastime, Twelfth Night, Epiphany, and Eastertime

Dough:

  • 1 cup finely diced mixed candied fruits (I omitted, but in hindsight, shouldn’t have)
  • 1/3 cup golden seedless raisins
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped blanched almonds or walnuts (I used almonds)
  • 2/3 cup ruby port (I used a Reserve)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter (I used salted)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour (about)

Glaze:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 Tablespoons cold water (I’d use less next time as it was too thin)

Decoration

  • 20 thin slices of candied citron (I found “Aikebom Fruta Cristalizada” at the local Portuguese Market)
  • 10 candied red cherries, halved (omitted)
  • 20 blanched almonds (omitted)
  • 40 pine nuts (omitted)
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup (omitted)

Procedures:

In a bowl, macerate fruits, nuts, and port. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, make a sponge with the water and water. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, zest, and sugar. Add eggs to the butter mixture one at a time. Then add milk. Add fruit and nut mixture except for the large pieces of candied citron needed for decoration. Add yeast mixture. Add flour a cup at time. This will make a very soft and sticky dough. Allow to rise until doubled for about an hour. Punch down dough and kneed hard 30-40 times.

Divide in half and shape each into a chunky rope about 22” long, seal into a circle/crown shape, and place on a well-greased baking sheet. Allow to double in bulk, about 40-50 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F. Glaze and decorate. Bake for 20 minutes at 400F, lower temperature to 350F and bake another 15-20 minutes longer until browned and hollow sounding. Brush candied fruits with corn syrup while still hot.

Notes:  This freezes well.  If you have stale bread leftover, try making it into french toast.

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