Portuguese Sweets, Veganised traditional Portuguese dishes

Queen’s Bun

‘Bolo Rainha’ and ‘Bolo Rei’ are typical Christmas sweets in Portugal. I was never a massive fan of either of them. ‘Bolo rei’ (king’s bun) has a lot of crystallised (candied) fruit, which I don’t fancy. ‘Bolo Rainha’ (Queen’s bun) has raisins and sultanas (and dried cranberries sometimes) and I really dislike any of these. Plus, none of these Christmas treats are vegan as typically eggs, butter and milk are added to the dough. I came up with my own version of the Queen’s bun and it is delicious, let me tell you! Taste a little bit like hot cross buns, with nuts and dates, it’s a real treat!

Time: 4h approximately

Type: cake, sweet bread

Difficulty: 2 pans

Makes: about 8 to 10 slices

What you need:

14g dry yeast

450g all-pourpose flour

50ml warm soya milk (plus more if needed)

80g softened vegetable spread

100g light brown sugar

2 flax ‘eggs’ (2 tbsp ground flaxseeds with 6 tbsp water)

2 tbsp Port whine or other brandy

150g nuts and dates, roughly chopped (I added dates, almonds, pine nuts and walnuts)

Icing sugar

Utensils:

Bowls

measuring cup

large baking tray

mixing spoons

food processor

kitchen towel

Directions:

Start by roughly chopping the nuts and pitted dates in a food processor – reserve;

Add the warmed soya milk to a small bowl and mix in the yeast – let it set for about 10 minutes;

Once yeast is activated (you should see foam forming on top), add yeast and milk mixture to 50g of flour and mix well till incorporated;

Form a round dough, place it in a bowl dusted with a little flour, cover with a kitchen towel and leave it to prove for 1h in a dry and wind-free place;

Then, tip the remaining flour in a large bowl or working surface;

Form a well in the middle and add softened vegetable spread, sugar and the first dough – mix well with your hands;

Add flax eggs, port whine and a little more milk if necessary, while mixing;

Knead for a few minutes and form a round dough – leave it to prove in a dusted bowl and covered with a kitchen towel for 2 to 3h;

Then, add chopped nuts and dates and mix well;

Shape dough in the form of a ring and place it in a non-stick baking tray, lightly oiled and floured;

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for about 25 to 30 minutes, till cooked through and golden on top (use a tooth pick to check if the dough is cooked if necessary);

Let it cool a little and then dust icing sugar on top (as much as you like);

Serve while warm or at room temperature.

It will keep for a few days in a well sealed container.

Tip: you can microwave it for a few seconds the day after, it’s like it just came out of the oven!

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