The origin of Bolo dos Generais (Generals’ Cake) dates back to the time of Battle of Roliça, the first battle fought by the Anglo-Portuguese army during the Peninsular War, on the 17th August 1808, under the command of Generals Wellesley and Gomes Freire de Andrade.
Today, the cake is manufactured by Casa Agrícola J. Nicolau, located in Vale Côvo, near Bombarral.
The recipe was kindly passed by a direct descendant of the family who lent the windmill and the lodgings near the village of Roliça where the military command billeted.
It is said that General Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington) asked his hostess to bake him his favourite cake, which was eaten on the night of the 16th August, the day before the battle, during a meeting with the generals of the strategic command of the allied forces. The general declared it the best cake he had ever tasted until then.
The Generals’ Cake is a high-calorie cake. This actually comes as no surprise if you think of the great number of ingredients involved in its preparation: plain flour, eggs, butter, sugar, almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, crystallised cherries and pears, orange, lemon, honey, raisins, grape syrup and liqueur wine.
It is manufactured according to traditional processes and totally free of preserving agents. The packaging and pasteurisation techniques used by the manufacturer ensure an extended expiry date, so the cake can be eaten without any loss in quality more than one year after the date of packaging.