And there it is: a brand new year. A time full of open possibilities where every wish can be made or renewed. Happy 2009 everyone!
Traditions are what we make of them. As a child, I don't remember a Christmas, New Year Eve or a Dia de Reis (Three Kings day, also known as The Epiphany) without Bolo-Rei, and like many children I didn't quite enjoy it, mainly because of all that candied fruits. It takes a bit of an adult taste to fully enjoy the richness of the cake. But even grown ups can be picky with candied fig and pumpkin, so many bakeries started a fancy cake made only with whole nuts and no candied fruits AT ALL. It's even richer, more expensive, and prettier than our traditional Bolo-Rei. Today, I offer you a different version from last year's King Cake (Bolo-Rei), a version made only with nuts: whole almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts. It's called Queen Cake!
Queen Cake (Bolo-Raínha)
Lightly adapted from Eric Treuille e Ursula Ferrigno, Bread
2 small or 1 large cake
100 grs walnuts
50 grs whole almonds
50 grs whole hazelnuts
600 grs (4 cups) all-purpose flour
125 ml (about 1/2 cup) whole milk
2 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
165 grs (3/4 cup) golden caster sugar
100 grs butter (3/4 cup), softened
3 large eggs
24 walnut halves
bunch of almonds or/and hazelnuts
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp water
milk to glaze
icing sugar for decoration
Dissolve the yeast in 125ml of tepid milk and leave for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the flour with salt - make a well in center of flour and pour in dissolved yeast. Gently fold some of surrounding flour into pool of yeast to form a soft paste in center of well. Meanwhile, cream the butter and sugar with vanilla extract. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well between each addition. Incorporate butter mixture into flour mixture and continue bringing in sides to form a soft dough. Knead the dough well, it should be smooth and elastic. Add nuts and knead to distribute evenly. Smother the dough in a little flour and cover with a clean cloth. Place bowl in a warm draft free area, and let rise until doubled in size, for about 1 hour.
Once dough has doubled, punch down and let rest for 5 minutes. If you're making 2 small cakes (like me), divide into 2 equal parts. Using your fingers, open a hole in the centre of each ball. (You can insert a floured glass to prevent sticking - that will keep the hole open) Cover with a towel, let rise again for another hour, until doubled in size. (Remove the glass, if using one) Glaze the dough with milk and arrange the nuts on top of the ring (push nuts a bit, so they won't fall as the dough rises whilst baking). Bake at 180ºC for 45-50 minutes or until golden.
Place water and sugar in a small saucepan, mix over stove until incorporated and a bit liquid, so it is easy to brush on finished cakes. After removing the cake from the oven, gently brush top and sides with this mixture. Sprinkle with (lots of) icing sugar.
Here it is my cake to celebrate Three Kings Day! Check all traditions like Galette des rois, Roscón de Reyes, Bolo Rei, King Cake, Dreikönigskuchen at Zorra's website.