Torrejas: French Toast, but Better
I don’t know about you, but when Lent comes around I go crazy trying to figure out meatless meals I can cook for my family.
Growing up, most of our Lent Friday meals consisted of camarones empanizados, coctel de mariscos, tortitas de camarones, fish, or to sum it up: seafood! My mom is from the lovely state of Sinaloa, after all.
And though I love, love, love anything and everything seafood, unfortunately it is something we cannot eat at home. At least nothing that contains shellfish because my little guy is very allergic. So, you can imagine that leaves me with very little to choose from.
Torrejas: Delicious Connection
Fortunately Torrejas is one dish I can continue to make at home, and one I loved eating when I was growing up. A dish that speaks to my kids a little of who they are and where they come from…on my side, at least.
I know, how can a little dish like torrejas do all that, right? Well, in many ways. When one is in a biracial, bilingual and interfaith marriage, every little thing counts. Plus it doesn’t hurt when the whole familia loves the same sweet recipe.
So what the heck are torrejas? It is a Mexican dessert-type dish served usually around the time of Lent. It is a bread similar to French Toast, dipped in a sweet piloncillo syrup. Although it is not a main dish, by any means, it sure doesn’t hurt to serve it as one once in a while. (Cubans, by the way, love their torrejas too!)
My family sure never complains when I serve torrejas.
My Mami’s Torreja Recipe
- 2 to 3 piloncillos (piloncillos look like brown sugar cones. In fact their flavor is very similar to that of brown sugar.)
- 2 cinnamon sticks (you can find them in the same area you find piloncillo. I find it to be a lot cheaper if I buy the Mexican cinnamon sticks or any Latino brand. Plus I like the flavor more.
- 2 to 3 whole cloves
- pinch of salt
- Several Mexican bolillo rolls (or if you are in an area, like me, where there is no place to find Mexican bolillo you can use a large French bread loaf or something similar.)
- 2 eggs
- oil to fry (I use vegetable oil)
For the syrup you need to boil about two cups of water in a large pot. Add the cinnamon sticks and continue to boil until the water turns a nice brown see-through color.
Add 1 more cup of very cold water. Return to a boil. Add two or three whole cloves. Continue to boil and add another cup of very cold water.
When it boils again, then add 2 to 3 piloncillos (this really depends how sweet you want it. I used only two and it was very sweet). Continue to boil until they dissolve completely. Y listo.
For the torrejas you will need to separate the egg yolks and egg whites.
Beat the egg whites with a hand beater until spongy and firm. Add the egg yolks and continue to beat until they are mixed well.
Cut the bolillos, or bread, into slices of about two inches thick. Dip each slice in the egg mixture and then into a very hot pan. Cook completely and turn over. Pat the cooked pieces with a paper towel to drain any excess oil.
Serve syrup in a soup bowl, add the torrejas and a disfrustar!
Ah yes, you will need a spoon.
Enjoy your torrejas!
Lisa Renata is a US-born Latina who experienced Mexican culture first-hand when she lived there as a child. You can often find her interpreting and testing for the school district ESL program, working on her blog Sabor a Cajeta, sewing or enjoying some calm time with her two kids and husband – and with a camera always in her hands.