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 candied fruit, almonds (chopped), pine nuts, and sultanas are soaked in port wine.

Start by dissolving the fresh yeast in 1 dl of warm water and then add a cup of flour, which is taken from the total weight. Mix this and let it rise in a warm environment for approximately 15 minutes.

In the meantime, in a separate bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and lemon and orange zest. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and then incorporate the yeast dough.

Once the mixture is thoroughly combined, add the remaining flour and knead or beat the dough until it is soft and elastic. If it becomes too firm, you can add a small amount of warm milk to adjust the consistency.

Now, you can introduce the macerated fruits into the dough, knead it again, and shape it into a ball. Dust the dough lightly with flour, cover it with a cloth, and wrap the bowl in a blanket. Allow it to rise in a warm environment for about 3-5 hours.

When the dough has doubled in volume during this rising time, give it a gentle stir and reshape it into a ball or divide it into several smaller balls. If you like, you can shape it into a ring or "baguette" and join the two ends together, using a small bowl or jar in the center to prevent it from closing.

Let the dough rise for another hour. Brush the cake with egg yolk and adorn it with strips of candied fruit, figs, orange peel, pine nuts, half walnuts, and so on.

If you wish to adhere to tradition, create a small hole in one side of the dough using a knife and insert a wrapped broad bean. Then, choose another location and insert a wrapped coin or a small metal or porcelain trinket.

Usually, this type of dough is baked in a preheated oven at 190ºC or 375 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes, or until it's a lovely golden brown. After baking, brush the cake with a mixture of hot water and jelly. If you desire, dust it with powdered sugar for a snowy appearance.

This particular recipe was shared with me by a friend last Christmas, and it's an excellent one. While numerous King's Cake recipes are available, it can be challenging to select the right one. You might also want to watch this video from Chef Ermida, which corresponds closely to the recipe my friend uses.

The King Cake isn't exclusive to Portuguese cuisine. In fact, many countries have their own traditions related to King cake. In the United States, New Orleans is renowned for its strong King Cake tradition, especially during Mardi Gras. The roots of this tradition can be traced back to France in the 1870s. Modern King Cakes may include a plastic baby figurine. Initially, beans or coins were used. However, in the 1940s, a baker started including porcelain dolls in his King Cakes to symbolize baby Jesus. The person who discovers the figurine is believed to be blessed with luck and prosperity and is designated the "king" or "queen" of the evening.

In numerous Western Christian traditions, there are 12 days of Christmas that culminate around January 6, known as the Feast of the Epiphany. It's on this date that many believe the "Magi," "wise men," or "three kings" arrived to visit the newborn baby Jesus. Mardi Gras officially begins on January 6, the Epiphany in Christian tradition. This is why the cake is called "King Cake" and why it conceals a tiny baby figurine inside. Keeping your Christmas tree up until January 6 is also a tradition associated with the arrival of the three kings on that day.

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