‘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)
large baking tray
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!