Portuguese Sweets, Veganised traditional Portuguese dishes


‘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


small pan


mixing spoons and knife

small and large bowl

rolling pin

baking tray and parchment paper


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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