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Traditional Portuguese Easter Cake (Folar de Olhao)

Traditional Portuguese Easter Cake (Folar de Olhao)

Folar de Olhao - it's what makes Easter sweet!

Folar de Olhao is a Portuguese alternative to the English Hot Cross Bun. You will find this interesting traditional sweet Easter bread on the table from the Algarve to the North in Porto, where they prefer to make a savoury version. It gets its name from the way it's constructed by stacking round layers or sheets (folar) on top of each other and letting the dough layers bond as they swell in the proving process. There are many traditional recipes, but our family have tweaked one to suit us. We hope you'll enjoy it!


  • 1 kg Strong white flour
  • 125g of Lard
  • 125g of butter
  • 1 ½ tsp of salt
  • 60g fresh baker's yeast * see our guide at the bottom
  • 150ml warm water
  • 1 glass of Port
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • zest of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • spreadable butter
  • golden castor sugar and cinnamon for dusting between layers
  • Paper doily (optional)

Sauce for drizzling or drowning: :

  • 2 glasses Port
  • 3 tbsp Clear Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • ½ tsp salt or a sprinkle of sea salt flakes.

Method: :

Sift the flour and salt (if you are using dried yeast add it now) into a large mixing bowl. Then add the zest of the orange and lemon.

If you don't have a food processor, cut each of the 125g of cold lard and butter into small manageable chunks and add to the flour. Using clean and DRY finger tips, lightly and rapidly rub the flour and fat together into a bread crumb consistency.

Next add the juice, Port and the warm water a bit at a time and mixing all the time until it's all combined. Then knead the dough until it's plump and not sticky.

Divide the dough up equally and roll each ball out into approximately a 10cm disc. Place a torn piece of baking parchment between each disc until all are rolled.

Grease and flour a 15cm lose bottom cake tin to stop the Folar from sticking. Then take your 1st layer and using the back of a teaspoon, smooth the spreadable butter all over the top then dust with castor sugar and cinnamon. Place in the centre of the bottom of the tin. Repeat this process on each layer and stack on top of each other.

Cover the top of the tin with foil and depending on how impatient you are, you can either place in a warm oven (around 50 c) for 1 hour or somewhere warm for 2 hours to prove. The layers will now be butting up against the tin and the whole of the Folar should have risen to fill the tin.

Then depending if you are cooking in your outdoor oven, bake for around 20-25 mins at around 160-180c. Or in a conventional oven 180c for close to an hour. But as in both ovens you'll probably need to turn the Folar at least once to ensure even baking.

For an artistic flurry, try using the frilly part of a paper doily as a stencil. Dust icing sugar over the patterned holes around the edge of the Folar.

MetFor the sauce:

In a saucepan gently bring to the boil the two glasses of Port, 3 tablespoons of clear honey, sprinkle of cinnamon, zest of one orange and finally a 1/3 teaspoon of salt or a sprinkle of sea salt flakes on top after you have poured your sauce.

We dress our Folar this way because not everyone likes it the same and some are fussier than others. There's always one in every family ; ) Remember to eat the Folar straight away or warm it up. This is because the butter between each layer will harden slightly when it cools and the whole bread will lose its sumptuous spring.

Feliz Pascoa!