Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Recipe: Torrijas

It should come as little surprise that I am not, a natural morning person. I have, on occasion in my life, been an unnatural morning person but given my rathers, I'd start at 10am and then with a short break for dinner and a shower, happily settle into work at 8pm and work through the night.

Strange therefore, that breakfast should be one of my favourite meals. It is not something I eat often, I usually skip breakfast all together but once in awhile, I like to get up and cook breakfast. I think this has something to do with breakfast foods, like milk, honey, eggs, bacon and how they smell, drifting through the house, especially on a cold winter's day. I'm convinced also, that my soft spot for breakfast is because when I was little, once a week, my mom would make french toast or bacon and eggs for a family breakfast.

This is a really wicked recipe for Torrijas, contributed by my Spanish colleague. I'm told it is the Hispanic take on french toast and that soaking in egg or milk is inherant to their desserts, witness for example, the Tres Leches cake. I've tried it at home and I completely concur, the deep-fat frying in oil is completely off-putting but I couldn't stop myself from devouring a slice and then another, and then a third. The syrup pairs orange, cinnamon, honey and white wine in a brilliant and addictively sweet and sharp combination.

1 pint milk
4-6 eggs
1 loaf white bread
4 tablespoons sugar
Vegetable oil for frying
1 stick cinnamon

Wine syrup
750 ml white wine
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar
Rind of ½ an orange
Rind of ½ a lemon
2 sticks cinnamon

Milk syrup
750 ml milk
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar
Rind of ½ an orange
Rind of ½ a lemon
2 sticks cinnamon

1. Boil the milk into a saucepan with the cinnamon stick. Set aside to cool.
2. Beat all the eggs in a deep dish.
3. Cut the bread into thick slices of about ½- inch, and soak them in the warm milk. Press the bread lightly between your palms to remove the excess liquid. To ensure that the bread does not absorb too much milk, 2 day old bread is preferred. Wide breads such as batard or bloomers are also recommended.
4. Remove from the milk and coat the bread in the beaten egg.
5. Heat the oil in a deep pan and deep fry the bread until golden brown. Drain the excess oil by placing them on paper towels. Arrange the toasts on a serving plate and garnish with additional orange rind, lemon rind and cinnamon sticks.
6. For the wine syrup, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue boiling to reduce the liquid so that it will be infused with the flavours. Repeat for the milk syrup.
7. Set aside the wine and milk syrups to cool. Remove the cinnamon sticks, orange and lemon rinds from the syrups and use to coat the bread.
8. We usually serve the toasts with either the wine or milk syrup. For those that do not have a very sweet tooth, a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar will be equally nice.

* Cook's note, I used baguettes for this picture because I couldn't find another suitable bread on short notice. However, the look and texture of the final product does vary considerably based on the bread used, so if you want a more presentable product, it's better to use a stiffer bread.

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