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Close up of wreath baked Christmas cake.

Bolo Rei (Portuguese Christmas Kings Cake)

A lightly spiced, fluffy Christmas cake filled with fruit and nuts. A speciality in Portugal, Bolo Rei or Portuguese Kings Cake, is super easy to bake at home, so get ready to make your Kings Cake "crown" this holiday season!
Course Christmas, Dessert
Cuisine Portuguese
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 1 Cake
Calories 3544kcal
Cost $10




  • Place the chopped candied fruit and raisins in a bowl with the port to infuse.
    100 ml port wine, 80 g candied or dried fruit
  • Mix the yeast with warm milk and let rest in a warm place for 5-10 minutes until slightly frothy on top.
    2 tbsp dried yeast, 100 ml warm milk
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, lemon zest, butter, whole eggs and salt. Then pour in the yeast milk and knead together.
    3 cups plain flour / all purpose flour, 75 g butter, 2 eggs, Pinch salt, lemon zest, 1/2 cup sugar
  • Once mixed, add in the port and fruits mixture and the chopped nuts. Knead together until well combined.
    50 g mixed nuts
  • Mould the dough to be rounded or in a ball shape within the bowl, scraping down the edges and slightly sprinkle with flour before covering it over with cling wrap and a cloth. Allow to rise to double the size. This should take around 1.5 hours, depending on your climate.
  • Line a baking tray with paper and a light sprinkling of flour. Place the dough onto the tray, forming a ring or "crown", without handling the dough too much. Place a cup or dish in the centre to keep the ring from closing up. Allow to rise for another 30min - 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 180°c.
  • Baste with whisked egg and garnish with remaining nuts, dried fruit slices and icing sugar.
    1 egg, 50 g dried fruit slices, Sprinkle icing sugar / powdered sugar, 30 g mixed nuts
  • Pop in the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
  • Optional: Brush the top with the jam and hot water mix to add a finishing shine before serving.
    1 tsp strawberry jam, 2 tsp hot water


Tips to get this recipe just right:
  • The Wreath Shape: Place a bowl or cup in the middle ring to prevent the hole from closing while baking.
  • Presentation: Sprinkle extra icing sugar over a slice when serving to make it look extra special and add just a little extra sweetness with every bite.
  • Making in Advance: You can make this one or two days in advance (especially if you wanted to have it on Christmas Day). The best way to store the cake is in a sealed container to keep the cake from drying out. If it does feel a little dry, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds a slice or 30-45 seconds for the whole cake.
  • Freezing: Once it's cooked and cooled, if you won't eat it in the next 3-4 days, pop it in the freezer and store for 2-3 months. When you're ready to thaw it out, just pop it in the oven for 10 minutes on 180°C (350°F).
  • Variation 1: Leave off the fruit on top of the cake and you've just made Bolo Rainha or Portuguese Queens Cake.
  • Variation 2: Customise the flavour by using different fruit and nuts to suit your taste.
  • Substitute Port: Any other spiced liquor such as brandy, sherry, frangelico or cointreau.


Calories: 3544kcal | Carbohydrates: 517g | Protein: 81g | Fat: 123g | Saturated Fat: 51g | Cholesterol: 662mg | Sodium: 813mg | Potassium: 2245mg | Fiber: 32g | Sugar: 180g | Vitamin A: 2749IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 528mg | Iron: 26mg