If you come to Seville at Easter, you’ll see bars throughout the city advertising “torrijas.”
These are a Semana Santa sensation, and locals won’t rest until they have their daily fix. Broadly speaking, you could call torrijas the Spanish version of French toast. But it’s so much more than that.
What are torrijas? Some myths, debunked
Firstly, torrijas aren’t just a breakfast food. You can eat these delicious treats anytime throughout the day.
Secondly, torrijas pack a lot more flavor than your average French toast. Sure, you might coat them in the same egg wash (with extra Spanish spice), but it doesn’t stop there. In Spain, our “French toast” is also dipped in sweet wine or honey, and then shallow-fried in olive oil. The resulting torrija is a decadent, syrupy treat that will put any French toast to shame!
Toast for Catholics and mothers
It’s said that torrijas go back as far as Roman times. Given how much the Romans loved bread, wine, and olive oil, that wouldn’t be surprising!
But torrijas really became a classic in the 16th century. Covents throughout Andalusia would use this recipe as a way to make use of stale bread. It was particularly popular during Lent, when this sweet toast was a valuable source of energy.
Today, they’re mostly seen in Andalusia during the weeks leading up to Easter. During Semana Santa, you can find them served at bars and cafes throughout the city, and even sold by different convents!
But if you can’t make it to the city during Easter, don’t worry. You can try this typical Seville food at home using our authentic local torrijas recipe below.
Classic Seville torrijas recipe
- Recipe Type: Dessert
- Cuisine: Andalusian
- Prep time: 10 mins
- Cook time: 10 mins
- Total time: 20 mins
- Serves: 4
- 1 French baguette, 1–2 days old
- 1 liter (about 4 cups) whole milk
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, divided
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom pods
- 4 large eggs
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 cup (236 ml) water
- Slice the bread into 1.5-inch pieces.
- Place the milk, a 1/2 cup of sugar, the lemon zest, and cardamom in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for 10–15 minutes until the mixture is the consistency of a runny sauce.
- One piece at a time, dip the bread slices in the milk mixture, coating entirely but not enough to make the bread fall apart. Put on a plate and set aside to cool slightly (you might lose some liquid but that’s okay).
- Meanwhile, place a large shallow frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add enough oil to shallow-fry the bread, about half an inch.
- In a separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs together. Two pieces at a time, dip the bread slices in the egg mixture and place in the frying pan. Fry for about 2–3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Once fried, place the bread on paper towel to cool.
- In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Sprinkle generously over the slices of fried bread as they cool.
- Finally, prepare a syrup by combining the honey and water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, for 4–5 minutes until thick and syrupy. Pour over the slices of bread and serve immediately.
David discovered his inner Spaniard while studying in Seville, and it’s now his life’s mission to learn everything he can about his adopted country’s culture and cuisine. He can usually be found eating in a busy tapas bar or strolling in a quiet street. You can see more of his adventures on the Everyday Food Blog!