Bolo Rei

Introduced to Portugal by the Confeitaria Nacional in Lisbon in the 19th century, bolo rei has become synonymous with Christmas and is Portugal’s answer to the German stolen or the Italian Panettone.

During the Christmas season there is nothing like going to your favourite pastelaria and arriving home with a beautifully fresh bolo rei in a box. The cake is a fruit cake flavoured with Port wine and other alcoholic drinks, topped with nuts, fruits and sugar.

In the days before obsessive health and safety laws, bolo rei had two hidden surprises inside… a gift (“brinde”) (small toy, metal figure or sometimes a gold coin) and a dried fava bean. Getting one or the other in your slice of bolo rei was seen as an omen of luck (if you got the brinde) or lack of it if you got the fava bean as you’d be expected to buy the next bolo rei!

Even without these surprises, bolo rei making is surrounded with mystique and secrecy as each maker developed their own recipe and keeps it like a precious secret. We were lucky to be let into some of these secrets when we visited Capuchinha in Viseu. This pastelaria, a stone’s throw from Rossio, the main plaza in Viseu, has become renowned for having the best bolo rei and its fame now extends well beyond Viseu!

We tasted the magic combination of flavourful drinks that goes into the dough and even tried to roll our own dough using the traditional elbow technique to shape the whole in the middle. We had modest results and decided to hand over to owner Dona Teresa and the 15 specialists who work in Capuchinha to produce over 100 kg of bolo rei (and bolo rainha, a version without fruit toppings) every single day!


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Pedro Rebelo

Pedro is a composer, sound artist and performer. In 2002, he was awarded a PhD by the University of Edinburgh where he conducted research in both music and architecture. Pedro has recently led participatory projects involving communities in Belfast, favelas in Maré, Rio de Janeiro, travelling communities in Portugal and a slum town in Mozambique. This work has resulted in sound art exhibitions at venues such as the Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast, Centro Cultural Português Maputo, Espaço Ecco in Brasilia and Parque Lage and Museu da Maré in Rio, Museu Nacional Grão Vasco and MAC Nitéroi. His music has been presented in venues such as the Melbourne Recital Hall, National Concert Hall Dublin, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Ars Electronica, Casa da Música, and in events such as Weimarer Frühjahrstage fur zeitgenössische Musik, Wien Modern Festival, Cynetart and Música Viva. His work as a pianist and improvisor has been released by Creative Source Recordings and he has collaborated with musicians such as Chris Brown, Mark Applebaum, Carlos Zingaro, Evan Parker and Pauline Oliveros as well as artists such as Suzanne Lacy. His writings reflect his approach to design and creative practice in a wider understanding of contemporary culture and emerging technologies. Pedro has been Visiting Professor at Stanford University (2007), senior visiting professor at UFRJ, Brazil (2014) and Collaborating Researcher at INEM-md Universidade Nova, Lisboa (2016). He has been Music Chair for international conferences such as ICMC 2008, SMC 2009, ISMIR 2012 and has been invited keynote speaker at ANPPOM 2017, ISEA 2017, CCMMR 2016 and EMS 2013. At Queen's University Belfast, he has held posts as Director of Education, Director of Research and Head of School. In 2012 he was appointed Professor of Sonic Arts at Queen's and awarded the Northern Bank's "Building Tomorrow's Belfast" prize. He has recently been awarded two major grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council including the interdisciplinary project “Sounding Conflict”, investigating relationships between sound, music and conflict situations. Ongoing research interests include immersive sound design and augmented listening experiences. Pedro has been appointed Director of the Sonic Arts Research Centre in 2021.

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