Sonhos – Portuguese Christmas Dreams

Welcome to our Portuguese Christmas! I'm very happy to share with you some Portuguese Christmas traditions during this advent. The christmas recipes we'll share with you over the next three weeks are our personal favorites which we mostly know from our Portuguese family.

Let's start with the well known and loved "Sonhos". Sonhos are one of the most popular Christmas desserts in Portugal and translated it literally means "dreams". For us, these little doughnuts truly are a dream and very easy to bake.

Ingredients (12 sonhos)

  • 150ml Water

  • 60ml Butter (unsalted)

  • 2 tsp White caster sugar

  • 1pinch Salt

  • 100g Strong white bread flour

  • 3 Egg(s) (free range) (whisked)

  • 500ml Vegetable oil (for deep frying)

  • Sugar and cinnamon (to dust)


  1. Place the water, butter, sugar and salt in a pan and bring to the boil, making sure the butter is completely melted.

  2. Add the flour and stir in with a wooden spoon – it is important to cook the flour fully so don’t hurry this process. The dough should come away easily from the side of the pan.

  3. Place the dough in a food mixer and, while beating, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add egg until the mixture is suitable for deep frying – if it’s too wet you won’t be able to use it. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 1–2 hours.

  4. Pour the oil into a deep, wide heavy-based pan and heat it until it reaches 170°C/338°F. Have ready a baking tray or plate covered with kitchen paper.

  5. Deep-fry dessert spoonfuls of the dough until golden brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the kitchen paper. Cook the rest of the dough in batches.

  6. Serve the Sonhos warm, lightly dusted with some sugar and cinnamon.

Recipe by World's Best Cakes by Roger Pizey

Pictures by Vanda Scazzari