Torrijas (pronounced tor-ri-ha-s) are one of the many guilty pleasure treats I learnt to make whilst living in Spain. When I first tasted them, I was surprised at how delicious and full of flavour a simple dessert could be. I swear from the first bite, my eyes became dilated and I felt like I had been transported to some part of culinary heaven. Guy, too, was pleasantly surprised when he had his first taste, quickly going back to the store for seconds! What are Torrijas? It’s the Spanish version of French Toast – but way better. Better because it packs a punch of flavour with the cinnamon and sugar added to the milk (or wine, if you are a little more adventurous!), and oh-so-decadent as it’s deep fried (like most of the delicious Spanish delicacies we tasted!).
Torrijas: Heavenly, but Evil
My Spanish mama, who taught me this recipe, said that it is “deceptively evil” as it tastes so heavenly, but you pay for it on the hips :p Perhaps this is why it is normally only eaten during Semana Santa. That’s right, you will be hard-pressed to find chocolate Easter eggs in Spain (especially compared to the overly commercial stores in Australia), but torrijas will be served in abundance throughout Semana Santa. It’s believed that they were created by nuns in Spanish convents centuries ago, as a way to use up stale bread left over from lent. They were the perfect ‘pick-me-up’ for the hungry and weak, and were even served to women giving birth to help relieve some pain (although I think the accompanying wine might have been the trick).
Whilst I’m one to respect tradition, this dessert is too good to only eat once a year, which is why I’m passing on this lovely recipe for you to cook and eat whenever you like!
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Serves 4 – 6 (depending how much you eat yourself!)
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 tbls sugar
- 2 – 4 eggs, beaten
- Day-old, Thick bread, sliced – The more stale the better, as it will soak up the milk without breaking as easily. (I personally love to use baguettes, and slice them into thick pieces)
- Extra virgin olive oil (for frying)
- Cinnamon & sugar, honey or sugar water for added flavour
- Boil milk, cinnamon & sugar for 5 minutes (or until fragrant). Stir.
- Leave to cool (this can be prepared the night before)
- Heat oil
- Once the milk has cooled, lay sliced bread in the milk and allow it to absorb/soak through
- Dip soaked bread into egg and place in frying pan
- Fry the bread, turning once, until they are a golden brown colour & crispy on the outside
- Sprinkle the fried bread with cinnamon and sugar, or brush over with honey or sugar water
They may not look like much, but they are such a delicious treat, and if cooked well, will be crunchy on the outside and creamy and soft on the inside! I’ve put our own spin on it and serve it with ice-cream, but they are quite decadent enough without anything else. I might even be courageous and try it with a bit of Baileys next time! Enjoy!
Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think and comment below!