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Portuguese Recipe: Bolo Rainha (Queen Cake)

Cooking 20min Preparation 1h40 easy
Recipe type: Dessert Cuisine: Portuguese

Our suggestion, be gone with dense, aged, impossible to eat fruit cakes, and welcome the New Year with a delectable Portuguese Bolo Rainha (Queen Cake). It’s light, airy and simple to make. If, however, tradition is beating at your door, check out her brother, the King Cake – the same sumptuous dessert but with a dash of crystallized fruit to make the holiday’s cheery and sweet. The Holidays are supposed to be celebratory, so let’s fill our stomachs in style – or at least with something edible and delicious! Cheers!




  • 1 kilo (or about 8 cups) flour
  • 6 eggs
  • 200 grams (1 cup) sugar
  • 200 grams (about 1 and ¾ sticks) butter, melted
  • 50 grams (just under 2 ounces) fresh baker’s yeast/block yeast
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 shot glass of aguardente or your favorite brandy, or Cointreau
  • 1 orange, zested
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 150 grams (2/3 cup) pine nuts (or hazelnuts)
  • 75 grams (1/3 cup) chopped walnuts
  • 200 grams (1 cup) golden raisins (optional, add more nuts instead)
  • 200 grams ( 1 cup) dark raisins (optional, add more nuts or swap with dried cranberries instead instead)
  • 250 grams (1¼ cups) laminated or slivered almonds
  • 150 grams (2/3 cup) toasted whole almonds (unsalted)
  • Quince jelly or orange marmalade to brush the top
  • Egg yolk wash to brush the top before baking
  • Powdered sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling on top


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180º C (about 350/356ºF). Heat the milk up slowly and crumble in the yeast and salt, mix to combine and let sit to bubble.
  2. Separately, beat the eggs and add the melted butter, along with the yeast mix and brandy.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, orange zest and sugar, mix well.
  4. Add the egg/yeast mixture and form into a dough. If necessary, add another egg to the mix if it’s too dry.
  5. Fold the nuts and raisins into the dough, reserving a small amount of the nuts to decorate the top of the bread.
  6. Cover with a towel and put in a warm area to let the dough rise, about an hour and half.
  7. Form the dough into 3 wreaths, brush with the egg yolk wash and decorate with the remaining nuts.
  8. Bake each wreath separately on a parchment paper lined tray in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and brush with the jam or marmalade (while warm) and sprinkle with powdered or granulated sugar.


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