Torrijas is the Spanish form of British Eggy Bread, French Pain Perdu or American French Toast—fresh bread, soaked in a rich and creamy egg custard and then pan-fried in butter until crisp and golden.
The twist of sweet candied orange and bitter orange caramel takes this to a more sophisticated level.
For the torrijas
16 small, medium-thick slices of white bread
11/2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup good-quality chopped candied orange peel
3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus extra to serve
1/2 cup whole milk
few drops of vanilla extract
1/4 cup superfine sugar, for sprinkling
For the bitter orange caramel
6 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
21/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
For the bitter orange caramel, put the sugar and water into a small pan, and leave over low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Then increase the heat, and leave the syrup to boil rapidly until it has turned into a brick-red caramel. Stand back and add the orange liqueur (it will splutter quite ferociously), then plunge the base of the pan into cold water to stop it cooking any further. Return the pan to low heat, add the orange juice, and leave until all the caramel has dissolved once more. Pour the mixture into a bowl, or small glass jar and leave to go cold. This can be made ahead of time if you wish.
For the torrijas, cut a 23/4-inch disk from each slice of bread, and spread with a little of the butter. Spoon the candied orange peel into the buttered center of 8 of the disks, cover with the remaining 8 disks, buttered side
down, and press well together around the edges to seal.
Beat together the eggs, cream, milk, and vanilla extract in a shallow dish.
Gently melt the remaining butter in a small pan, and pour off the clear butter into a small bowl, leaving behind the milky-white liquid at the bottom of the pan.
Pour some of the clarified butter into a large nonstick frying pan, and place it over medium heat. Dip the torrijas into the egg mixture one at a time, leave for a few seconds, then turn over, making sure they are evenly coated, and well soaked in the mixture. Add some of them to the frying pan, and fry for 2 minutes on each side until crisp and golden. Drain briefly on paper towels and keep hot. Repeat with the remaining butter and torrijas. Serve hot, sprinkled with superfine sugar, and drizzled with a little heavy cream, and some of the bitter orange caramel.
(* Recipe from Jose Pizarro's Spanish Flavors-Published in US by Kyle Books, January 2013- Photos by Emma Lee)