Every Easter, known as Semana Santa in Spain, local bakeries and patisseries will make up special Easter desserts, and in Ronda the pick of the bunch is called Torrijas, a sweet treat made with bread as the base, filled with custard, and drowned in honey or sugar and served on a plate to be eaten with a knife and fork.
Of course as is typical of the Spanish, every region will have their own variation, so the recipe I’m going to share with you may not be exactly how your Spanish friends would make it, so be careful you don’t offend them by saying this recipe is the best, instead nod knowingly when they tell you what is missing, or how they’d make it, and then when their back is turned choose the recipe you prefer!
Torrijas originated right here in Andalucia and are eaten during the 40 days of lent, originally prepared by nuns in their convents, they would sell or keep them for their own “after work treats”. Back in the 15th century when the recipe was first created bread would go stale quickly, and torrijas came about as a means to reusing day old bread, which for many is the only food permitted to be eaten during lent.
- 1 loaf of day old bread
- 1 packet of Royal custard powder
- 1 litre of milk
- 8 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 cup if sweet Anise
- 6 eggs
- Sunflower oil
- sugar and cinnamon (for dipping)
- honey (for coating)
- First, prepare the custard and allow it to cool, you might want to use a higher ratio of custard powder than you’d normally when making custard. We want it be custard cream for spreading, rather than for pouring.
- Add the milk and anise together in a flat bowl, then soak the bread in it. If you don’t have day old bread you can lightly toast the bread so that it absorbs the milk.
- Spread some of the custard between two slices of the bread, and then dip in a bowl with the eggs beaten.
- Fry the bread/custard sandwiches over a hot even temperature until golden brown.
- There are two choices for finishing the recipe, either heavily sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixed together making sure to cover both sides, or pour heated honey (mixed with water in a 50/50 mixture) over the torrijas.
- This recipe makes a spectacular sweet treat for breakfast with a cup of hot strong coffee, or leave to cool and serve as a dessert with pieces of fruit on top.
Oh go on then… Here is the more traditional recipe and method for Torrijas
- 1 loaf of day-old bread, preferably a rustic loaf
- 4 cups of milk
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 lemon peel
- 3 eggs
- Olive oil or vegetable oil, for frying
- In a saucepan, heat the milk, sugar, cinnamon stick, and lemon peel over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let it cool.
- Cut the bread into slices, about 1 inch thick. You can remove the crusts if you prefer.
- Soak the bread slices in the cooled milk mixture, turning them over so they absorb the liquid evenly. Let the bread soak for at least 30 minutes, or until it’s completely saturated.
- Beat the eggs in a shallow dish or bowl.
- In a large frying pan, heat enough olive oil or vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, dip the soaked bread slices in the beaten eggs and then carefully place them in the hot oil.
- Fry the bread slices for a few minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and crispy.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the torrijas from the pan and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to remove any excess oil.
- Repeat with the remaining bread slices until they’re all cooked.
- Serve the torrijas warm or at room temperature, dusted with a little extra sugar or cinnamon if desired.
Here are a few tips to help you make the best torrijas possible
- Use day-old bread: Torrijas are traditionally made with stale bread, as it’s better able to absorb the milk mixture without falling apart.
- Soak the bread thoroughly: Make sure that the bread is completely saturated with the milk mixture before you fry it. This will help ensure that the torrijas are moist and flavorful.
- Be careful when frying: It’s important to fry the torrijas in hot oil, but be careful not to let them burn or become too dark. You want them to be golden brown and crispy on the outside, but soft and custardy on the inside.
- Dust with sugar or cinnamon: To add a little extra sweetness and flavor, you can dust the torrijas with a little sugar or cinnamon before serving.
- Serve at room temperature: Torrijas are best served at room temperature, so let them cool for a few minutes before serving.
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