Torrijas are not dissimilar to French toast, but in Spain these delicious, sweet bread fritters are eaten as a dessert, or as a late-afternoon “merienda” treat. This is how Salvelio remembers his aunt and grandmother making them in the province of Salamanca many years ago. There are several variations to this still-popular traditional recipe, including dipping the bread into wine, for instance during Semana Santa celebrations over Easter. The secret is to use a robust, fairly dense white bread you’ve either baked yourself, or which has bought from a good bakery, as shop bread tends to disintegrate too quickly. You also need to use olive oil for the frying to get an authentic taste.
6 slices of stale white bread, at least a day or two old; 2 cups of full-cream milk; 2 to 3 tbsp granulated white sugar; 1 cinnamon stick; 2 strips of lemon peel; 1 extra-large egg, beaten; olive oil for frying; extra sugar and ground cinnamon for sprinkling.
Add the cinnamon, sugar stick and lemon peel to the milk; boil for about 10 minutes even if the milk gets thick and frothy, buttake care that it doesn’t burn. Strain the milk into a dish big enough to hold the six slices of bread if spread out in an even layer. Let the milk cool for 10 minutes, then add the bread and allow it to soak up the milk for about 20 minutes, gently turning the slices once or twice if needed.
Dip each slice into the beaten egg, then fry it in hot oil. You don’t have to deep-fry it but a decent layer of oil helps to cook it properly. Fry on both sides until each slice is a deep, golden brown. This can splatter a bit so be careful that you don’t get burnt.
Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and a dusting of white sugar, or drizzle with honey. Torrigas can be eaten hot or cold.