Portuguese Sweets, Veganised traditional Portuguese dishes

Bolinho – All saints day buns

Autumn is my favourite season, mainly because I get to eat roasted chestnuts and also these delicious little cakes. Well, you can bake these anytime but to me it only really makes sense now as they are traditionally baked so kids can go from house to house on the 1st of November in Portugal asking for “bolinho”. There are loads of different recipes, and they vary according to where you are in the country but this is the one that tastes more like “home” to me. The traditional recipe asks for eggs butter and milk, but not this one, and it tastes amazing – enjoy!

Time: 60 min approx.

Type: cake- makes about 15 small buns

Difficulty: 1.5 pans

What you need


500g boiled potatoes (approx 20 min when cut into small chunks) and mashed

400g self-raising flour (add more if necessary)

250g light brown sugar

1 flax ‘eggs’ (1 tbsp of flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp hot water)

75g of vegetable spread

1 lemon (zest)

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ground fennel seeds

1 ground aniseed star

2 handfuls of chopped walnuts (plus a few whole ones to decorate)


one small pan and potato masher to boil and mash potatoes

1 big mixing bowl and spoon


2 baking trays lightly oiled (if you only got one, no problem, you can cook in batches)


While potatoes are boiling, get the trays out and lightly oil them;

Mix mashed potatoes with vegetable spread;

Add the flax ‘egg’, sugar, lemon zest and spices and combine well with the spoon;

Add the chopped walnuts and combine well;

Add the flour a little each time and keep mixing, with your hands (yes, it is a bit messy!). You want the mix to look a bit springy and smooth, like a bread dough- add more flour if the mix is still sticking too much;

Scoop a little of the dough with your hands to form a nice bun and place it in the tray, leaving a bit of space between them. Size doesn’t really matter (some might disagree!!)- but I like mine the size of the palm of my hand (the buns off course);

Place a whole walnut on top of each bun for decoration;

Transfer the trays to the oven and bake for about 25 to 30 min at 200C, until they look nice and lightly brown (see picture).

These will keep for about a week in a closed cake tin and you can also freeze if you wish.

Note: ground fennel and aniseed might be a bit difficult to find; I got whole seeds and put them in the food processor for a couple of minutes, it works too.

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