Portuguese Easter Cake

With Tatiana Bento – Marmalade Cookery School

Easter is the perfect time to have a little get together with your loved ones and eat cake!

All over Portugal you can find different versions of this Easter cake, but if you’ve ever been to the Algarve during Easter time you’ll know exactly which one I’m talking about. As you walk through the streets you can smell the warm cinnamon and aniseed. These little cakes are everywhere for about one month only and everyone goes crazy over them. They are crisp, yet melt in the mouth. The exterior is complemented by the soft and sometimes gooey inside – perfect with a cup of tea.

After a lot of research we managed to come up with a traditional recipe, exactly how it’s been done for the last few centuries…

I promise you everyone will love it.

Folar de Olhao, Easter layered cake

Makes 2 cakes


For the dough:

1 kg of bread flour

250g of butter

3 tbsp of lard

300g of soft brown sugar

150ml of water

3 tbsp of whole aniseed

1 tbsp of cinnamon

2 large free range eggs

10g of dried yeast or

20g of fresh yeast

1 pinch of salt

For the filling:


Soft brown sugar

Ground cinnamon


The dough:

Start by making an aniseed tea by warming up the 150ml of water and dropping the whole aniseed in it. Let it sit for 5 minutes, strain and reserve.

In the meantime get your fats ready by melting the lard and butter together and reserve.

Get a wide bowl and place your flour in it, mix in the yeast and make a well in the centre.

Tip #1: If you are using dried yeast all you need to do is mix it in, however if you are using fresh yeast you need to mix it in the flour using your fingertips, as you would do if making crumble.

Add the butter and lard mixture to the centre of the flour and start mixing with a wooden spoon. Add the cinnamon, eggs, salt and sugar and carry on mixing.

Now get your hands involved and start adding your aniseed tea. Slowly add it in while mixing until the dough becomes less sticky and starts to come away from your hands.

Tip #2: If you feel it has reached the right consistency don’t add any more liquid, you don’t need to add everything as different flours absorb at different ratios.

Cover with a clean cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it’s doubled in size.

The moulds:

It’s now time to prepare your cake tin. Use a 20cm round tin, greased and lined with baking parchment.

The layers:

The first step in doing the layers is to spread a thin layer of sugar, sprinkle of cinnamon and chunks of butter on the bottom of the tin. This will create a lovely caramel crust in your cake.

Take a small portion of your dough and shape it into a disc with the help of the rolling pin, roughly the size of your tin. Place the disc on the bottom of the pan and spread some more sugar, cinnamon and butter on it.

Tip #3: Make sure your layers of dough are as thin as you can go as this will make for more layers (and therefore more layers of filling in-between)

Tip #4: Be generous with the filling ingredients, they will produce the caramel that will keep your layers moist.

Carry on layering your cake until you reach half of the pan height. Cover with a clean cloth and leave to rest for 2 hours or until it’s doubled in size.

30 minutes before baking pre heat your oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas 4.

Place the cake in your pre heated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until it’s nice and golden.

Tip #5: The cake will be cooked when the sides start to come away from the tin slightly.

Allow to cool slightly before turning it on to a prepared plate.

Happy Easter!


All Articles