I’ve always been more of a french toast girl than a pancakes girl. Topped with fruit, stuffed with ricotta, the challah bread version, pain perdu, or the classic version that my dad used to make: Pepperidge Farm white bread, topped with butter and Aunt Jemima – I like all of them. I remember the first time I saw the Spanish version of french toast, torrijas, back when I was teaching English at a middle school in Madrid, around the corner from Santiago Bernabeu (home of Real Madrid). My classes were over for the day and I popped into a bakery across the street from Colegio San Agustín. It was just a few days before Easter and there were freshly made torrijas – a traditional Easter dish – sitting in the display case with the palmeras and pan de chocolate, just waiting for me to buy and eat them. And I did. And they were good.
Spanish torrijas come in different versions. The classic version is kid-friendly: day-old baguette soaked in milk, fried in oil, dunked in egg, fried again, and served warm or cold, topped with powdered sugar. The drunky version, the kind I’m sharing today, is all the same except we’re swapping milk for red wine. There’s a boozier version still – baguette soaked in some sort of brandy bath – but I decided to follow the middle ground. Plus I’m more of a red wine drinker than a brandy drinker, so I can kill more birds with less stones going down the wine route. As for the other provisions, I bought my eggs and bread from the Tompkins Square Greenmarket – San Francisco Sour Dough from Bread Alone and farm fresh chicken eggs from B & Y Farms in Spencer, New York. Both were off the steel and chains. Fresh eggs really do taste different.
The idea of bread-soaked wine as a breakfast food? Yea, sounds a little weird. My trusted confidant and food advisor, Sisty, questioned how such a combination would actually taste. Would it be savory? Served with cheese? Non non, I assured her – we’re doing this with powdered sugar, and I’ll keep it real and tell the people if it tastes good or not.
Truth: it tasted good. But another truth: maybe I would use a different wine next time. I used a California red blend with an ABV of 13.5%. When I do this again, I’ll use a lighter wine, maybe a sweeter, fruitier table wine with an ABV of 11-12%. Although my torrijas were most enjoyable, the dryness of the wine was very apparent and I found myself adding more powdered sugar to each bite to counterbalance with extra sweetness.
Well, sweetness, hope your weekend was muy muy bueno and that you try this recipe next weekend. Because weekends are for making french toast. You should probably do your laundry, pick up your dry cleaning, buy new socks, go grocery shopping for reals, and do all those other things you promised you’d get to. But slowing down to make yourself a good meal, something that you just don’t have time for during the week – yea, that’s important too. Cocinamos!
- 4 thick slices of a day-old baguette or other crunchy-crusted bread
- 2-3 cups of a light, red table wine
- 3-4 farm fresh eggs (depending on how big)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- powdered/confectioner’s sugar to taste
- Pour wine into a medium-sized bowl and beat eggs in a separate bowl.
- Add two slices of bread to the wine, submerging bread completely.
- While you allow the bread to soak for a couple minutes, add cinnamon to egg mixture and beat just to incorporate cinnamon.
- Carefully flip each slice of bread and let it soak for a couple more minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat oil over medium in a large pan – I recommend a cast-iron one.
- When oil is very hot, gently lift bread and barely squeeze it to remove excess liquid, then carefully drop it into the pan – watch for splatter. Do the same with the second piece and allow to cook for a couple minutes on the first side. (At this point, you can start the soaking process with the second two slices of bread).
- Use a spatula (and tongs if it helps) to gently flip the bread. Let cook for a minute and a half, then remove the bread to the egg mixture, fully submerging each piece and allowing them to soak up egg on all sides, including the crust.
- Return bread to pan and allow to cook a minute or so on each side. The face of the bread should be golden brown. Balance on the crust for 15 seconds, then gently rotate and repeat until the crust is fried on all sides too.
- Remove to a plate and repeat with the rest of the bread.
- Serve warm or cold with powdered sugar.