OOn a recent trip to Spain, I noticed something called torrijas on the dessert menu. A quick Google told me to expect French toast, but what happened couldn’t have been further from what I had imagined. The first surprise was that it was cold, and the second was a crispy layer of caramelized sugar on top covering a soft, chewy interior infused with orange and cinnamon. I have since discovered that there are many regional variations, so this is my attempt to recreate the dish I tried that day.
Preparation 5 minutes
To cook 45 minutes
½ loaf of white country bread
100ml double cream
Peel of 1 large orange
1 cinnamon stick
4 egg yolks
50g caster sugarplus an extra for the top
50g unsalted butter
Heat the oven to 160°C (140°C fan)/325°F/thermostat 3. Cut the bread into four slices about 4 cm thick, cut off the crusts and cut each slice in half. Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake, turning occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the slices are dry to the touch. Remove and let cool.
In a small saucepan, gently heat the milk, cream, orange zest and cinnamon stick until warmed through, then remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 20 minutes.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy, strain the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk again. Pour into a shallow bowl.
Dip a few slices of bread in the milk, turning them over to coat them evenly on both sides, then let them sit in the milk for five minutes. Transfer to a plate – be careful as they will be very soft and delicate – then repeat with the remaining bread and custard.
Put about a tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, sprinkle evenly with a teaspoon of powdered sugar, then fry the bread two slices at a time for five to six minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized.
If serving hot, sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top of the bread slices, use a blowtorch (or grill) to heat the sugar until it bubbles and caramelizes, then serve with cream English or ice cream. If you have cold torrijas, allow them to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Just before serving, sweeten the tops and blow a blowtorch.