Bolo de tacho is a traditional cake from western Algarve, Portugal, that was used to celebrate the start of May. On May 1, rural Portuguese families used to walk or ride a donkey up Fóia, the highest mountain in the Serra de Monchique, carrying bolo de tacho to share with friends during the whole day of celebrations.
Referred to as “corn cake” or “May cake,” Serra de Monchique bolo de tacho is made from a mix of corn and rye flours—or leftover cornbread—with sugar, honey, lard, chocolate, anise, cinnamon, and lemon zest. This mix is then blended with strong coffee and warm water, and then oil is added. After the batter rests for one night, the cake is baked on a lard-greased tacho pan. Traditionally a “poor” food, Serra de Monchique bolo de tacho became a beloved recipe that was later adapted to include more expensive ingredients, including sausages or sardines.
Despite its long-standing tradition of being passed on from generation to generation, Serra de Monchique bolo de tacho is at risk of disappearing.