Everyone has their carbohydrate vice. Mine is bread. Pass on the pasta, pass on the rice, but hand me a freshly baked loaf of anything, and not only might you lose your hand if you try and deny me that pillow-y cloud of goodness from the oven, but about an hour later you may quite possibly find me passed out in a carb-induced coma, crumbs all over my clothes, a smile on my face…and no bread in sight. So, when shopping for this weeks’ breakfast, Spanish french toast, or torrijas, I was delirious with excitement over being able to buy fresh bread. Due to the nature of my addiction, I never buy it. But, for the good of the blog, sacrifices must be made. Plus, any bread leftovers I planned on using in some chocolate bread pudding. Chocolate + bread + custard=ecstasy. But I digress…
The Spectacular Loaf!
Torrijas is a popular breakfast that was traditionally eaten during Lent, the 40-day period of fasting that precede Easter Sunday. There isn’t really anything taste-wise about this French toast that makes it that different from what you may already eat. The difference comes more from technique: the milk is cook with flavorings beforehand for a more flavorful batter, the toast is cooked in olive oil rather than butter (not surprising in a Mediterranean diet) and the bread is coated in eggs after. In any case, I was happy to swap my traditional Sunday flapjacks for this sweet Spanish treat and the recipe below I created using a combination of ingredients of others I found. Because this can also be eaten as a snack, another interesting variation I found involved soaking the bread in a sweet red wine rather than milk, but that didn’t sound all that appetizing to me at 9 am. However, for those more adventurous than I, I’ve included that recipe below. Also, I didn’t have the heart to let that spectacular loaf of bread go stale right away for breakfast, so I merely toasted the slices before soaking them, and that worked just fine.
4-6 slices stale bread, whatever you like
1 cup milk**
1 TB sugar or honey
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp vanilla (as strong as you like)
1/2 tsp orange zest
olive oil, for frying
1. Arrange the bread slices in shallow dish that can hold the milk.
2. In a saucepan, add the milk, sugar or honey, cinnamon, vanilla and zest, and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat the moment it starts to boil and infuse for 5 minutes.
3. Discard the cinnamon, then pour the milk on the bread and let soak until the bread is saturated.
4. Beat the egg in another large shallow bowl.
5. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or cast iron skillet. Carefully transfer each soaked slices of bread into the egg and turn them to coat. Add to the frying pan.
6. Fry for 3-4 of minutes on each side, until brown.
**For the more adventurous, use a sweet Spanish red rather than milk.**