Desserts and confectionery,  Recipes

Torrijas: better than French toasts

Hello my lovely readers!

I hope you are all having a tremendous start of the week. Easter is just days away and for many it means a couple of days off. How do you plan to spend it? Cooking? That would be grand!

I have not posted yet a sweet dish and I think the time has already arrived. And since we are at the doors of a relevant Spanish celebration I have even more reasons to do so. Easter in Spain is no longer associated to food abstinence (at least, not for the many), but to confectionery and desserts. During these days, there is one recipe that stands out from the rest and, particularly, drives me crazy: Torrijas. People would say they are the Spanish version of the French Toast. However, I disagree because there is a massive difference between both recipes. Firstly, we use stale bread, about one or two days old. Then, the base of a good torrija is the way you flavour every single ingredient using cinnamon, honey, fruit zests or anything you may like. The alternatives are countless.

Torrijas are for the Spanish what Hot Cross Buns are for the British. Something sacred, in essence. My family usually coat them with cinnamon and sugar whilst my girlfriend’s (she is from Sevilla and knows a lot about it!) opt for honey. Both are very traditional and I could not decide just for one to post. Whatever you choose, torrijas are always a winner.

INGREDIENTS (SERVES 10 LARGE UNITS)

For the torrijas

  • Large loaf of stale bread (1)
  • Milk (600 ml)
  • Cinnamon stick (1)
  • Orange peel (2)
  • Lemon peel (1)
  • Sugar (1 tbsp)
  • Eggs (2)
  • Sunflower oil

For flavouring

  • Mixture of honey and water
  • Mixture of sugar and cinnamon ground

DIRECTIONS FOR COOKING

  1. Cut your bread in slices as wide as a finger. You can make bigger units (like me) or smaller which will depend of your bread. My suggestion is to cut medium or small slices because they are easier to manage.

2. In a sauce pan, put the milk, the cinnamon stick and one of each peels. Heat at low power until it breaks to boil. Then, remove from fire and dissolve the sugar. Drop in a large tray and let it cool.

3. Soak both sides of every slice in the milk and set aside. Depending of their size you will need more or less time.

4. Beat the eggs and fully coat one slice at a time. In a deep frying pan (such a wok), pour an inch of sunflower oil with the remaining orange peel. Heat up at medium fire and remove the peel once it is already hot.

5. Fry the torrijas by both sides in batches that you can easily control. Be careful they do not crumble because that could ruin your cooking. If this happens, remove all the bits quickly. You may need to change the oil after a while. Do it when it turns to a dark, blackish colour.

6. When your torrijas are golden brown take them out of the pan and put aside to cool. Now its time for flavouring:

  • If you choose honey: dilute in a saucepot water and honey and pour over your torrijas on both sides. Do this in a large tray where they are able to swim in the liquid.
  • If you choose cinnamon and sugar: mix both ingredients in a flat plate and manually coat each torrija on both sides.
Final aspect: cinnamon and sugar (red) and honey (white)

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