Christmas Tradition #4

In December 2012 I shared some of our food, typically eaten or devoured at Christmas time ūüėÄ

the Algarve fig cake –¬†Christmas Tradition #1 and the Aniseed ¬†cookies – Christmas Tradition #2 and then my favorite the King’s crown cake – Christmas¬†Tradition #3

And so for 2015 my sister-in-law is visiting from Portugal and she made these here at home….

Christmas tradition #4 typically from Algarve, south of Portugal (that’s where my hubby is from) this is one of their regional sweets. Ground almonds and sugar and a paste is formed (this is similar to – but it is not marzipan)

fine almond flour

fine almond flour

sugar and water in pearl stage

sugar and water in pearl stage

add sugar to almond

add sugar to almonds

make little balls with almond paste and fill with 'soft eggs'

make little balls with almond paste and fill with ‘soft eggs’

and then form little fruits leave overnight

and then form little fruits
leave overnight

and the final result is this ….


Little bit of food coloring, paint your fruits and voila you have almond cookies

It looks easy enough but it’s not. It’s not too complicated either but you need some ‘talent’ to make these fruits and not mess the filling. ¬†I made three shapes, one carrot and one fig and the third one went in my mouth because the filling was too much, it was oozing out of the carrot shape and I licked it and realised that’s not a lekker thing to do to the food your guests are going to eat. ūüėõ So I just ate it – no evidence of bad shape was left

Delicious for once a year only! Something my dad used to say about these makes me laugh every time I see them….Today, 9 years ago he passed away…we still miss him at the Christmas dinner¬†‚ô•

Christmas Tradition # 3

With my sister and sister-in-law immigrating,¬†also with dad gone¬†we are so few now, and although there have¬†been many changes over the last Christmases¬†(missing tree) not a lot has¬†changed¬†around the dinner table (except for¬†some sad moments) the food traditions have remained¬†the same,¬†they have¬†stayed and lived on for years…..

I don’t like cooking, don’t care much about the kitchen but if I’m baking then the kitchen is a happy place. This was¬†my mom¬†or sister-in-law’s job¬†a few years ago, now it is my duty to bake the Christmas cake.

Bolo Rei or¬†King’s Cake¬†or King’s Crown (not sure what they calling it¬†now-days) -everyone¬†in our family loves this, my mom used to bake for orders and for us at home, she moaned a lot too about the work involved and the expense of the cake. It is a lot of work with all the resting periods and allowing the cake mixture to rest, fold in fruits and rest again and grow. You¬†basically¬†spend the whole day in the kitchen and you’re left with 3 cakes, that’s it! So if the family is huge and you want more cakes, then it’s another one or two days in the kitchen. This is nothing like the¬†English¬†fruit cake or mince pies, a light delicious cake with a bit of fruit, lots of pine nuts and pretty glazed fruit to decorate. It is my favorite.bolo rei

Christmas Tradition # 3 this is my Bolo Rei

1 kg of flour

250 g of margarine

300 g of sugar

6 eggs + 6 egg yolks

200 ml of milk (2 dcl)

Pinch of salt

1 active yeast cube

Dried and crystallised fruit and nuts


Crumble the yeast in a bit of warm water and add 250 g of flour and mix well. Let it rest and double up in size.


Generously sprinkle the dried fruit with good port wine and let it just sit and get happy

Mix the flour, sugar, margarine and add the eggs and milk and knead this well together. Add the yeast mixture to this and work the dough with your hands. Add another two handfuls of flour and let it rest in a warm room and double up in size. Room has to be warm, draft-free. Wrap it up in warm blanket.

Carefully mix in the fruit and knead with hands, it’s messy, be patient. You might need more flour for dusting. Make and shape the 3 ring cakes (a circle). Some people roll dough and add fruits and roll it up, I just mix mine as is. Decorate with fruits (candied pear, candied fig, pineapple, pine nuts, pecans) on the outside let the cakes¬†rest and grow once more.¬† Sprinkle with icing sugar. Bake in pre-heated oven.

While warm brush with fruit jelly (smooth peach jam + bit of water and boiled in sauce pan) just to make it shiny. Add a little more icing sugar if needed. I always add the food glitter for the festive happy look.

It’s Yum! Enjoy! ūüėÄ

Now there’s a beautiful reason for the shape of the cake, it is supposed¬†to represent the¬†crown of the three wise men, the beautiful fruits are the jewels on the crown. The gifts of gold, myrrh¬†and incense are represented¬†in the cake as the ‘gold’ in the¬†colour of the cake, the fruits are the myrrh and the incense is that beautiful smell of the cake baking. Traditionally the cake used to be baked with a small silver charm or gift inside. If you receive the slice with that charm then it is your turn to return the favour and bake the¬†cake for¬†next year.Picture1

I looked in old boxes and secret places in my room and found two charms for my cakes, so someone owes me a cake next year *I wonder who?*

With a story like that, which is as old as the hills, you must know the cake is divine and the process of baking it is worthwhile, it will teach you patience every time you check on the resting dough and need to wait a little longer, it will teach you love for you must have loads of love to go through this process, and it will teach you faith, you need to build on faith to complete anything in life. Those are my three gifts to you Рpatience, love and faith.

Merry Christmas

PS: Maybe with the patience¬†comes a part of reading the recipe carefully and not forgetting to add the milk¬†— oh no¬†huge mistake!!

bolo rei1

Christmas Tradition # 2

We have a few traditions of our own, over the last 37 years of living in sunny SA there may have been some changes to the old ones, and new traditions were adapted to fit in with the South African theme and weather and all of us. At some stages we were about 20 sitting at the dinner table and lying lazily the day after around the pool or in the cool of the garden.

I don’t like cooking, don’t care much about the kitchen but if I’m baking then the kitchen is a good place to be.

My boys love these cookies, this is something they gobble up while we are busy being distracted with something else. There are a few variations to this recipe, most of them are made with sweet potato. Our recipe is of a real cookie that will last in the cookie jar for a while if you can hide it that long from the children.

IMG-20121217-00317 (2)Broas de Natal or Aniseed Christmas Cookies РChristmas Tradition #2

250g of flour

125g of mealie meal (maize)

125g of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of aniseed, pinch of salt

10 ml of port wine

2 eggs

1 cup of oil (I don’t fill the cup right to the top)

1 teaspoon of baking powder

2 table spoons of honey


Let me warn you it can get¬†messy, that’s normal.¬†Everything¬†gets mixed together in one go in one bowl. Then you need to use your hands and shape into little balls then¬†flatten¬†them a bit into oval shape. You might need extra flour for dusting. Brush cookies with egg yolk and bake until golden.

Sprinkle with glitter edible fairy dust of course and hide them away from the boys ♥

ūüėÄ ¬†‚ô•

Christmas Tradition # 1

It is time to start baking and preparing for Christmas so here is our Christmas tradition #1

This is a traditional¬†sweet from Algarve, it has been adopted¬†as a Christmas tradition for us¬†because¬†it is rare,¬†sort of extinct. You don’t find this anywhere here is SA.

Oh and it¬†is so easy to make, all you need for this is cake is…..well you need to have a sister-in-law living in Algarve, Portugal. Then you need to wait for her to send you one. Maybe that is not so easy…sorry if you don’t have a sister-in-law in Algarve, it’s a pity really this cake is delicious!

We all love this cake, all of us, I have no idea how to make this and have no plans in trying it our either.

Bolo de Figo or Dried Fig Cake

Don’t use¬†Google¬†to translate¬†it, it is so bad it’s embarrassing,¬†I will quickly explain the process.

Basically you need 500g¬†of dried figs and 500g¬†of almonds, this is roasted then it’s cut into tinny little pieces (minced) and put in pot with 500g¬†of sugar (eeu¬†that’s a lot) and some chocolate powder, cinnamon, aniseed and grated lemon. It cooks for about 5 minutes, then you let it cool down a bit and pour it on a wooden¬†surface (chopping board) and mould it into a round shape or heart shape. Decorate with icing sugar (dusting over the cake)¬†or just the almonds.Picture1

We lucky to get a parcel every once in a while with this treat and sometimes we received the dried stuffed figs Рanother delicacy, they wrapped like sweets and we save this all for a special occasion like Christmas or Tigs birthday tomorrow. I have taken this one out to celebrate his special day.

Thank you Candida for spoiling us, mwah xxx

Lasagna for the working girl

There‚Äôs nothing quick about lasagna. I need a pot for my home-made tomato sauce. Another for the white sauce. And one more for the filling. Then layers of lasagna pasta and lots of working space and with a bit of a mess your lunch is ready to go into the oven. It’s the type of thing I reserve for¬†a¬†Sunday.

But its Friday afternoon I have to rush home and try to prepare a Sabbath meal for us and visitors. Yup I invited people over for lunch, I promised lasagna and I have not prepped anything. The clever thing would be to make the sauces the night before (Thursday) then on Friday it’s easy to just put it together, but that didn’t happen. I have to do the whole lot in one go and be ready before sunset, ha ha. What a laugh.

Well I did it, I managed to pull it off. There is nothing vegan in this recipe. The sauces are shop bought. It’s a lazy, quick and easy lasagna for the working girl. I insist this is healthy. And I love it.

Chickpea and veggie mince lasagna

Two carrots and about four small baby marrows grated. Tinned chickpeas. Veggie mince; (rinse and let it rest with a generous amount of lemon juice a few minutes before introducing into the pot) Put everything into the pot and cook with a good tomato/pasta sauce. Add all your favorite spices now and let it all cook together for a few minutes.

Once that is ready start the layers in your dish. One layer of lasagna sheets, cover with your filling and add the sauces. Oh yes the woolies tomato & herb is delicious. the cheese sauce is even better¬†(bit over the top and rich)¬†but this is lasagna, you need this cheese sauce ūüôā

Continue until you have the desired amount of layers. I only do two layers, it just stays moist if it’s less layers. Finish off with more cheese sauce and then a bit of the tomato pasta sauce. And there you go it’s ready for the oven.

Salad. Roast veggies. Olive bread.  

That is my Sabbath lunch…..and I’m done in the kitchen. Time to tidy up and relax. I love quick meals and the friends and good times around our dinner table!