Bolo de Natal (Christmas Cake)

Bolo de Natal (Christmas Cake)


The Portuguese Christmas Cake (sometimes mistaken for the King Cake, which is instead a yeast sweet cake) is a very rich cake made especially at Christmas time, traditionally served without any decoration or just garnished with candied fruits. The Portuguese recipe, arriving in Brazil was tropicalizated: the Brazilian versions recipes use cane sugar instead of refined sugar and spread an icing over the top of the cake and decorate with candied fruits. One of the new ingredients included in some of the several versions is our beloved condensed milk.

For the cake batter

• 200 g butter at room temperature
• 4 large eggs
• 200 g brown sugar
• 100 ml orange juice or milk (traditional Portuguese recipe)
• 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
• 50 ml Port wine
• 330 g all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
• a pinch of salt
• a pinch of nutmeg
• 100 g black raisins
• 100 g exotic candied fruit cut into small cubes
• ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour for dusting the fruits
For the topping
• 250 g powdered sugar
• 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water or sweet liqueur
• 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lime juice
• candied fruit, dried fruit and holly leaves, for garnish

Preparation method

For the cake batter

  1. Beat the egg whites until foamy and set aside.
  2. Sift flour with baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix black raisins, candied fruit and ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour, and set aside. Cover the candied fruit with flour is used to prevent them from sliding down to the bottom of the cake during baking.
  3. Cream the butter using an electric mixer.
  4. Continue beating and add, a little at a time, sugar and the egg yolks.
  5. Add Port, use a spatula to combine the flour, a little at a time, alternating additions with the orange juice and the orange zest, if you like.
  6. Add the flour-covered fruits and finally add the beaten egg whites, stirring gently. If you like, add 50 g chopped nuts (traditional Portuguese recipe).
  7. Pour the batter into a greased pudding mould (capacity: 1,6 litres).
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 35-40 minutes. Stick a toothpick in the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean the cake is ready.
  9. Let stand for 5 minutes then unmould. It keeps for more than a week at room temperature.

For the topping
Mix the icing sugar with the water or the liquor, add the lemon juice, a little at a time, stirring well, until the icing becomes smooth but firm. Pour the icing over the top of the cake, allowing it to cascade in irregular way without coating the sides completely. Decorate with holly leaves and candied cherries.

Posted on: 20 December 2016