Portuguese Sweets, Veganised traditional Portuguese dishes

Vampilhos

‘Pampilhos’ are a traditional (very) sweet from ‘Ribatejo’, in central Portugal, where I worked for a few years before moving to England. They were invented about 30 years ago by a baker to represent the farmer’s rod used when looking after bulls. The traditional sweet is actually a nightmare for vegans: is not only made with A LOT of eggs, butter and milk, but is also very much linked to bullfighting, part of that region’s culture. So, I had to veganise it! I called it ‘vampilhos’ because is vegan and I revamped it, and is delicious!

Time: 2h

Type: sweet

Difficulty: 2 pans

Makes: 8 cakes

What you need:

For the pastry: 280g white flour, a dash of ground turmeric, 70g brown sugar and 90g vegetable spread, at room temperature;

For the filling: 1 sweet potato, boiled with a dash of black salt, 1 cup soya or oat milk, 2 tbsp cornflour, 1/2 tsp vanilla essence, 2 tbsp agave or maple syrup, dash of ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp vegetable gelling powder

Utensils:

small pan

blender

mixing spoons and knife

small and large bowl

rolling pin

baking tray and parchment paper

Directions:

Start by peeling, cutting and boiling the sweet potato with a dash of black salt (this is important for the subtle ‘egg’ flavour) for about 20 minutes till tender – drain water;

Place all ingredients for the filling in a blender and process for a few seconds until smooth;

Tip the filling in a pan and bring it slowly to a boil, over low heat;

Once it boils and starts thickening, remove from heat, transfer to a small bowl and let it completely cool (in the fridge or leave it in the kitchen counter, which will take a little longer) – it will firm up more once cooled;

Meanwhile, prepare the pastry by mixing all ingredients in a large bowl – knead until smooth and firm, a little like cookie dough (add a little water or more flour if needed) – let it set for about 30 minutes;

When all is ready, sprinkle flour in a large surface and spread the pastry in a rectangle about 2 to 3mm thick, using a rolling pin;

Cut individual squares about 10×10 cm;

Spread a good amount of filling in the middle of each square and add a sprinkle of ground cinnamon on top; leave enough space without cream on the sides so you can fold pastry into a roll after – you do need to be careful here (might get a little messy);

Space out the rolls in the baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for only 8 minutes- it is supposed to be half-cooked;

After 8 minutes, switch on the grill and bake for another 2 minutes to toast a little on top;

Serve warm or room temperature. Because the pastry is not thoroughly cooked, best eaten within 2 to 3 days.

Note: Make sure rolls are well sealed when assembling, otherwise it will spread out and leak during baking.

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