For the fourth year in a row, Portugal voted the World’s Best Golf Destination for 2017
Nine travel tips to Portugal you won't find in any guidebooks

Bolo Rei a Portuguese holiday tradition fit for a king

Bolo Rei, or King's Cake, is a Portuguese holiday tradition. Fit for a king, this sweet bready cake is covered in nuts and candied fruit.

The origin of the cake king goes back to the Romans. They had the habit of electing the king of the feast by drawing lots with beans – the winner was called the king of the fava. The Catholic Church took the game and linked it to the Epiphany between December 25 and January 6. The last day was the Day of Kings and symbolized by a fava in a cake.

Today’s Bolo Rei first appeared at the court of Louis XIV in France for New Year's and King's Day parties.

Bolo Rei came to Portugal in the nineteenth century as a bready cake in the shape of a crown made of lèveda dough. The first place where Bolo Rei was sold in Portugal was the Confeitaria Nacional in Lisbon around 1870. The recipe came from Paris, and the cake spread like a wildfire. The name survived the proclamation of the Republic in 1910, although some called it a President’s Cake…


Round with a large hole in the center, it is made of a soft white dough mixed with raisins, nuts and candied fruits. Traditionally, inside the cake were also a dried bean and a small coin, usually made of metal. The fava gave to those who received it in a slice the right to pay the next king cake, and the coin gave luck to anyone who found it. It is said that there were still those who put small riddles in the cakes, whose reward would be half a pound of gold, or even the gold coins themselves, as a gift to those who bought the cake.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)