Bolo Sans Rival Recipe: A Portuguese-Origin Goan Cake
Image Credit: TasteAtlas

Much like the heavy Portuguese influences on Goa’s architecture, culture and food, the desserts draw inspiration from their colonial ancestors as well. One such creation, the bolo sans rival – which literally translates to ‘cake unrivalled’ – is a dangerously addictive, moist and fluffy cake. Made with cashews, egg whites and sugar and frosted with an almond buttercream topped with canned cherries, the traditional recipe is completely gluten-free.

The cake gets its richness from the cashews and lightness from the use of whipped egg whites and has a nutty, moist crumb. Baked in sheets before it is assembled into a layer cake sandwiching buttercream, it has meringue layers that also give it some textural crunch. Originally of Filipino origins, it is believed that the cake travelled to Europe from people who travelled to the Philippines and learned baking tricks to use back home. The process of making this cake happens in two parts, like most cakes – first of which, is a cashew meringue followed by the fluffy buttercream. Psssst….have a birthday coming up? You know what to make now!


Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Ingredients [For Meringue]

  • 6 egg whites
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1.5 cups ground cashews
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Ingredients [For Frosting]

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 250 grams soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • Canned cherries, for garnish


  • Using a stand mixer or electric whisk, beat the egg whites until they start to form soft peaks before adding the sugar in bit by bit. Continue to whisk the sugar until the egg whites turn a shiny static white colour and stiffen considerably.
  • Gently fold in the vanilla and crushed cashews into this mixture and pour on to greased baking trays. Bake in an oven heated to 150 degrees Celsius for 18-20 minutes. Extract the trays and remove the meringue immediately from the sheet on to a cool, clean surface to come to room temperature.
  • Add the sugar and water for the frosting to a cold saucepan and stir until the sugar starts to dissolve. Add the egg yolks to a stand mixer and whisk vigorously while simultaneously streaming the hot syrup into the yolks.
  • Beat the hot sugar and eggs until it turns into a custard-like consistency before adding the almond extract and rum. Start to cream the butter like you would for any regular cake and combine with the egg yolk mixture until well-blended and homogenous.
  • Using a mould, cut out three circles from your meringue sheet and sandwich the buttercream frosting between each layer. Frost the topmost surface of the meringue along with the sides. Decorate with canned cherries and refrigerate for 2-4 hours, before slicing and serving.