I think this must be the most surreal event we have yet been to, but it was also incredibly joyful, fun and delicious. There was snow, a reindeer folk band, elves, a bear, a walking Red & White Candy Stripe, Father and Mrs Christmas and lots of people in Santa hats on pushbikes and motorbikes. The highlight of course was the 120metre long ‘Bolo-rei’ created by Pastry Chef Filipe Martins of KubiDoce.
Bolo-rei (Kings Cake) is a traditional Portuguese cake eaten over the Christmas period. The traditional last day for enjoying this cake is Dia de Reis (the Day of Kings or Epiphany). The original recipe is French, and it came to Portugal in the 19th century when the Portuguese monarchy employed a French baker. The cake is made of a soft sweet white dough and is usually round, with a hole in the middle. The traditional additions are raisins, nuts and crystallised fruit but as you can see from the photographs Filipe didn’t just make Bolo-rei.
There were also ones of sweet almond with candied orange and peanut, and lots of carob with orange, raisins and almonds. There were also white chocolate cake with walnuts and orange, and dark chocolate ones with orange, cashew and almond. He’d even created a new one which he called ‘o Bolo-Princesa de Frutos Vermelhos’, Princess Cake of Red Fruits, with goji berries and cranberries. There was a palpable sense of anticipation amongst the crowd as we watched the cakes brought out. And we were not disappointed, not only did the cakes look amazing they were absolutely delicious.
Filipe Martins created his first gigantic King Cake in 2009, then it was a mere 70 metres long. This year’s 120metres long creation could have easily been 200metres long given the number of sections which went back into his patisserie. The only reason it wasn’t was because of a lack of tables!
Various reviews share that Filipe estimated he used 160 kilos of flour, 700 eggs, 40 kilos of sugar, 60 kilos of white chocolate, 60 kilos of dark chocolate, and 350 kilos of candied fruits, almonds, nuts, pine nuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews, raisins, red fruits, apricots, goji berries, cranberries, carob meal. As well as 15 litres of brandy, 25 litres of olive oil, 25 litres of milk, 15 kilos of yeast and 70 kilos of sweet potatoes.
Now a giant cake is one thing, but what made yesterday’s event surreal was who assisted the staff from KubiDoce in cutting the cake. First Father Christmas arrived with his motorbike entourage, then cyclists whisked past the cake, then the Reindeer Folk Band competed musically with the modern youth group before Father Christmas and the Candy Stripe strolled up and down the lines.
By the way if you have not yet tried a Bolo-rei then don’t bother with the ones sold in the supermarket, pop along to KubiDoce in Olhão. You will find them in Restoration Square opposite the main church. It is unlikely the Reindeer Band will be there when you go so here’s a very short video instead.