Easter is a big deal in Spain, but while the religious pomp may not be to everyone’s taste, the accompanying sweet treat, torrijas, almost certainly will be.
In their most basic form, torrijas are slices of bread soaked in sweetened milk, coated in egg, fried, and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. The more popular, and in my opinion tastier, version involves the additional step of soaking the prepared torrijas in a honey mixture before serving.
Similar to French toast and Portuguese rabanadas, torrijas can be served plain or with an array of accompaniments, including ice cream, jam, or dried fruit.
There are various recipes for torrijas — indeed, it is the sort of dish everyone claims their mother or some other relative has the best recipe for — but after numerous experiments, the one I present below, in basic and advanced form, is my personal favorite.
Basic Torrijas Recipe
- 1 day-old medium-sized baguette (if you can’t wait, slice a fresh baguette as per recipe instructions and lightly toast until firm)
- 1 3/4 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sweet wine (I prefer to use a dark, sweet Pedro Ximénez, but any strong sweet wine is fine)
- 3 tablespoons sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups sunflower oil
- cinnamon (for sprinkling)
Cut off both ends of the baguette and slice the remainder into 10-12 three-quarter-inch slices on a slight diagonal.
Gently heat the sweet wine and sugar in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, and add the milk, stirring to mix. (Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, gently heat the milk and in it dissolve the originally prescribed three tablespoons of sugar plus two additional tablespoons or one tablespoon of honey.)
In batches, soak the bread in the sweetened milk mixture for five to 10 minutes per batch. Lay out the soaked bread in a dish and once all batches have been soaked spoon any remaining milk mixture over them.
Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan capable of comfortably holding three slices of bread at a time. While the oil is heating up, beat two eggs in a medium-sized bowl.
When the oil has reached 350-370 degrees Fahrenheit (testable, if you don’t have a thermometer, by whether or not a cube of white bread browns within a minute), turn three slices of the soaked bread in the beaten eggs and add to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until nicely browned, remove onto an absorbent-lined tray and repeat the process with three more slices until all are fried.
Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the warm torrijas and serve immediately, or wait until they are cool and save in the fridge for later. This variant is lovely heated up and served with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Advanced Torrijas Recipe
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup water
Heat the honey and water in a saucepan until the honey thins out to a liquid. Place the prepared torrijas in a medium-sided dish and pour the honey mixture over them.
Leave for an hour before serving or keep in the fridge for two to three days.
All photos are courtesy of the author.