Some history about Spanish torrijas
Torrijas – known as the Spanish version of the French toast – have a long and interesting history that dates back to medieval times in Spain. The dish was traditionally made by soaking stale bread in milk, then frying it in oil and coating it in honey or sugar. This simple dessert was often enjoyed by the poor because it made use of old bread that would otherwise have been thrown away.
In the Catholic religion, torrijas are associated with Holy Week and Lent. They were often eaten as a way to provide sustenance to people who were fasting during this time. Torrijas were also served during the Easter season as a way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
In modern times, torrijas have become a popular dessert throughout Spain and are enjoyed year-round. Many regions have their own variations of the recipe, some of which include adding honey, cinnamon, or brandy to the milk mixture. In some parts of Spain, torrijas are also served with ice cream or a custard sauce.
Today, torrijas are considered a delicious and indulgent dessert that is enjoyed by people of all ages. The dish continues to be a beloved part of Spanish cuisine and culture, and it is often enjoyed as a special treat during holidays and other celebrations.
What is the difference between French toast and torrijas?
French toast and torrijas are similar in that they are both made with bread soaked in a custard-like mixture, then fried or baked until golden brown. However, there are a few key differences between the two:
- Bread: French toast is often made with any type of French bread, while torrijas are traditionally made with a specific type of bread called “pan de torrijas” which is denser and sweeter than regular bread.
- Soaking mixture: While both French toast and torrijas are soaked in a mixture of milk and eggs, torrijas also include additional ingredients like sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes brandy or wine. This gives them a distinct flavor and aroma.
- Frying: Both French toast and torrijas are traditionally fried, but French toast is usually cooked with butter, while torrijas are often fried in olive oil.
- Serving: French toast is a common breakfast dish in many countries and is usually served with syrup, powdered sugar, and/or fruit. Torrijas, on the other hand, are traditionally served as a dessert in Spain, especially during Holy Week and Easter. They are typically served warm and may be garnished with honey or sprinkled with cinnamon.
Overall, while French toast and torrijas are similar dishes, torrijas have a unique flavor profile and are steeped in Spanish cultural traditions that make them a special and beloved treat in Spain.
Different Torrijas recipes
There are different ways to prepare torrijas. Torrijas de Leche is made by dipping the bread in milk (sometimes with a touch of vanilla), then in beaten eggs before frying. Torrijas de Vino, on the other hand, is made by dipping the bread in sweet red wine.
Other version is made without milk but using white wine instead. Some modern and innovative recipes include the addition of cream or chocolate. Torrijas can also be topped with cinnamon and sugar or covered in sweet syrup like honey or simple syrup.
Which bread is the best to make torrijas?
The ideal bread to use for making torrijas is a type of bread that is slightly stale or dry. This is because stale bread absorbs the milk mixture better and holds its shape when soaked.
In Spain, a type of bread called “pan de torrijas” is commonly used to make torrijas. This bread is a dense, sweet bread specifically made for this dessert. However, it can be hard to find outside of Spain, so you can use any type of bread that is slightly stale or has been left out for a day or two.
White bread, brioche, challah, or baguette are good options. Avoid using sliced bread or bread that is too soft or fresh, as it tends to break apart when soaked.
When choosing the bread, make sure it is sliced evenly to ensure that the torrijas cook homogeneously, and bread slices are thick to prevent them from breaking. Also, it’s important to remove the crust before soaking the bread, as it can prevent the milk mixture from being absorbed properly.
In summary, you can use any type of slightly stale bread for making torrijas. But, it is important that the bread has a dense texture and that it is sliced evenly to achieve the perfect texture, while avoiding the bread falling apart when soaked.
How to make Torrijas de leche
Preparing torrijas is easy. This traditional Spanish dessert is a delicious way to end any meal or to eat for merienda – the term used in Spanish-speaking cultures to describe a light meal or snack that is usually consumed in the late afternoon or early evening, typically between lunch and dinner. It is similar to the concept of afternoon tea or a midday snack.
Finally it can be served with honey, cinnamon sugar, or even ice cream for an extra special treat. Here’s how to make it:
- 4 large eggs
- 1 liter (about a quart) of whole milk
- 1 cup of sugar (200g)
- 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons of orange juice
- 1 medium lemon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 (3 inch) cinnamon stick
- 4 to 6 slices bread
- Vegetable oil, for frying (we normally use olive oil or sunflower oil)
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon stick.
- Peel the lemon and add the zest to the mixture.
- Soak each slice of bread in the mixture for about 5 minutes on each side.
- Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry each slice of soaked bread until golden brown on each side (about 2 minutes per side).
- After frying, remove on a tissue paper to absorb excess oil.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or drizzle with honey before serving.
Warm or Cold: what’s the best way to eat torrijas?
Traditionally, torrijas are served warm shortly after being fried or baked. Warm torrijas are soft and melt in your mouth, and the contrast with the crispy exterior makes them even more delicious. To enjoy their full flavor and texture, it is best to eat them warm.
However, you can also eat torrijas cold, although they will not be as flavorful as they are when served warm. If you decide to eat them cold, you should allow them to cool down and store them in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to eat them, let them come to room temperature and sprinkle some sugar or cinnamon on top to liven up their flavor.
In short, if you want to experience their delectable taste and mouthfeel, it is best to eat torrijas warm. But if you prefer to have them cold, make sure to let them come to room temperature before eating to enhance their flavor. Enjoy!
And remember you might try Torrijas with a modern twist in fine restaurants across Andalusia. Our traditional Spanish treat is back and better than ever, with some creative ingredients and flavors making it an unforgettable experience. Enjoy the nostalgia of the past with a taste of the present!