If you are in Spain around Easter time, then you have probably seen torrijas, these delicious treats, in cafes or on the window displays of bakeries.
If you are an American you may be a little confused about the craze for torrijas for a short period of time as they are reminiscent of what we know as French toast.
This simple Spanish dessert is a cross between French toast and bread pudding that uses left over food. Indeed Mediterranean diets emphasize re-using leftover food to create delicious dishes such is the case with migas del pastor and torrijas. Here we will explain what torrijas are and share a traditional Spanish torrijas recipe to try at home!
What are torrijas and where are they from
Similar dishes have been around for centuries and have been consumed for various reasons. The torrijas Spanish French toast equivalent dish is a common treat during lent and is said to have been popularized by nuns in the catholic church as an alternative to meat. During lent, a 40-day period leading up to Easter, many believers partake in a fast that does not allow meat consumption.
Then, in order to curb these cravings, people enjoyed torrija brioche as the appearance is very similar to meat. But the taste could not be more different! The key ingredients are stale bread, eggs, milk, and cinnamon. As you can see, it is more of a delicious sweet then a meat alternative. It was compared to meat due to its texture and appearance.
A delicious typical Spanish sweet!
Nowadays, these tasty treats are everywhere in Spain for the 40 days leading up to Easter. Although, many people do not follow the strict fasting rules, many Spanish people still enjoy the dessert as it is a tradition and only available during this period.
It symbolizes the transition from winter to spring as well. It can be enjoyed as a merienda, a mid-day snack, or as a dessert after lunch. Usually, people go out to a café to order these sweets but you can make them at home by following a recipe for torrijas.
Try making torrijas and everyone will want seconds!
You can find dozens of torrijas recipes online but we have one that we want to share with you! It is a special recipe because in it we debunk the myth of only being able to use stale bread. This is a popular debate among many Spanish people—whether to use stale bread or fresh bread. But the truth is, it really doesn’t matter! The important part is how long you let the baguette bread soak in the milk and egg mixture. We will explain more of this in the baked torrijas recipe.
Let see the ingredients list of the recipe:
- 1 baguette (a day or two old or fresh)
- 2 ½ cups of milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2/3 cups of sugar
- Olive oil
- Place milk, sugar, and the cinnamon stick in a pot to boil. While the milk is warming up, cut the baguette into small slices.
- Once the milk, sugar, and cinnamon mixture comes to a boil remove from heat and place in a wide bowl.
- In a second bowl you want to crack the eggs and whisk them until blended.
- Place the slices of bread into the milk mixture so they can soak in the flavors. This is where the myth of using stale bread comes into play. The older the bread the longer you must soak it in the mixture so it absorbs everything and becomes soft but not soggy. If you have fresh bread then you don’t let it soak as long in the milk mixture. It really doesn’t matter when you buy the bread but how long you soak it. Just be careful as to not have the bread get too soggy as it will not cook as well.
- After the bread is soaked in the milk mixture you want to move it to the bowl with the eggs and turn it around so that all sides are coated evenly.
- In a frying pan, heat the olive oil at a high temperature so the bread does not soak the olive oil. The idea is to lightly fry the torrija and not let it simmer in the olive oil for too long.
- Place the bread slices in the frying pan and flip once golden brown.
- Remove the torrijas from the frying pan and sprinkle with cinnamon for extra flavor. Then, voilà! Just serve and enjoy!
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