The Portuguese King Cake Recipe - do it yourself


The Portuguese King's Cake Recipe

List of ingredients

750 g of flour;
30 g of baker's yeast;
150 g of butter;
150 g of sugar;
150 g of candied fruit;
150 g of dried fruits;
4 eggs;
1 lemon;
1 orange;
1 dl of port wine;
1 level dessert spoon of coarse salt.


The chopped candied fruit, almonds, pine nuts, and sultanas are macerated with port wine.
Dissolve the fresh yeast in 1 dl of warm water and add a cup of flour (taken from the total weight).
Mix and let rise in a warm environment for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, salt beat the butter, sugar and lemon, and orange zest. Add the eggs, one by one, beating between each addition, and then the yeast dough. 
When everything is well connected, add the remaining flour. Knead or beat the dough very well, it should be soft and elastic. If it's too hard, add a little warm milk. 
Now you can mix the fruits. Knead again and shape into a ball. 
Sprinkle the dough with a bit of flour, cover it with a cloth and wrap the bowl in a blanket. Leave to rise in a warm environment for about 3-5 hours.
When the dough is well risen - in principle it should double in volume-, stir and shape again into a ball (or into several balls) and make a hole in the middle on a greased tray. Or you can give it the shape of a "baguette" and join the two extremities in a circle. To prevent the center from closing you can put a small bowl or jar in the hole.
Let it rise for another hour.
Brush the cake with egg yolk and garnish with strips of candied fruit, figs, orange peel, pine nuts, half walnuts, etc. 

If you want to follow the tradition you can make a hole with a knife on one side of the dough and push the wrapped broad bean into it. Then, choose another spot and push the wrapped coin or small metal or porcelain gift in! Usually, this kind of dough bakes in a preheated oven at 190ºC or 375 degrees F for about 30 - 40 minutes or until golden brown. Once baked, brush the cake with a little jelly diluted in hot water. If you like you can sprinkle it with powdered sugar for a snowy presentation!

This recipe was given to me by a friend last Christmas. She bakes this King's Cake every year and it's a very good one. There are many recipes around, but it's not easy to pick one. You may like to watch this video from Chef Ermida. It's a video from a well know supermarket but it will give you a good idea of the process and it's more or less the same recipe my friend follows.

The King Cake is not an original Portuguese recipe. In fact, many other countries have their own tradition of eating King cake. If you go to New Orleans in the USA you will find a strong tradition of eating this cake during Mardi Gras. The king cake tradition was brought to America from France in the 1870s. Today, you're likely to find a plastic baby in your cake! Initially, it was beans or coins. But in the 1940s, a baker began baking porcelain dolls into his king cakes to symbolize baby Jesus. Finding it will give you luck and prosperity! The finder becomes the "king" or "queen" of the evening.

 In many Western Christian traditions, there are 12 days of Christmas, culminating around Jan. 6, known as the feast of the Epiphany. That’s when many believe the “Magi” or “wise men” or “three kings” arrive to see the newborn baby Jesus. Mardi Gras begins on January 6, which is the Epiphany in the Christian tradition. That's why the cake is called "king" cake and why there's a tiny baby hidden inside. The arrival of the three kings on that day is also the reason why you should o leave your Christmas tree up through January 6. 

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Thank you!


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