Torrijas are the Spanish equivalent of eggy bread. Earlier this year, while in Madrid, I had a version that used croissants instead of bread. The heady combination of buttery pastry, baked until caramelised and sticky and filled with a velvety custard, had me reeling. It was a great start to the weekend with coffee. Here I have scented the custard with orange peel and cardamom, and added spoonfuls of blackcurrant jam for pleasing bursts of colour and acidity.
Blackcurrant jam croissant ‘torrijas’
Traditionally, torrijas are fried in a pan but this baked version, with its demerara crust, is a golden, souffle-like pudding.
Prep 20 min
Cook 50 min
400ml whole milk
5 cardamom pods, bashed
Zest of 1 orange
80g demerara sugar
2 eggs plus 2 extra yolks
80g golden caster sugar
4-5 all-butter croissants
140g blackcurrant jam
Creme fraiche or thick pouring cream, to serve
First warm the cream and milk with the cardamom and orange zest in a saucepan over a low to medium heat until warm and quivering (I use a paring knife for the peel, but just be sure that the bitter white pith doesn’t make it into the custard). Set the milk aside to infuse. Now, generously butter a shallow ovenproof dish, of about 30 x 20cm in width. Sprinkle this with two to three heaped tablespoons of demerara sugar to ensure it is fully coated, tipping the dish around to coat it evenly.
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Whisk the eggs and additional yolks with the caster sugar in a large bowl (try making financiers with the leftover whites). Strain the cream and milk mixture through a sieve and into the eggs and sugar, whisking as you do. Discard the peel and cardamom.
Cut the croissants laterally like sandwiches, and dunk the bottom halves into the custard. Lay these across the bottom of the baking dish and dot with the rest of the butter and all the jam. Now dunk the top halves into the custard cut side down, then lift them, soaked in the custard, on to the bottom croissant to sandwich together. Pour over any leftover custard and sprinkle with the remaining demerara sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes until puffed up and caramelised. Eat at once with creme fraiche or thick pouring cream.
The simple flex
Use a dairy-free milk to make the custard if you wish to avoid dairy. You can also omit the butter. Use chia seeds in place of the eggs with dairy-free croissants or slices of stale bread, as in the classic recipe.