Torrijas (Spanish ‘French’ Toast)

Crackly and custardy with a brûléed top, this standout recipe comes from Panem bakery in Madrid.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    1 day 6 hours

Benjamin Kemper

By Benjamin Kemper

Updated on March 26, 2024

Though traditionally deep-fried in olive oil, torrijas—Spain’s quintessential Holy Week dessert that falls somewhere between French toast and bread pudding—are subtler and less greasy when baked, as this knockout recipe from Madrid’s Panem bakery goes to show. Challah or good white sandwich bread may be substituted for the brioche. If you own a kitchen torch, you can use it in lieu of the broiler in step 5 to brûlée the bread on the top and sides. Panem doesn’t top its torrijas with cinnamon sugar, but the flavor combination is so classic that it felt like heresy to exclude it completely. Torrijas will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three days, though they lose their sugary crunch after a day or so. The bread slices may be halved into rectangles in step 2 for smaller servings.


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped (pod reserved for another use)
  • Six 1½-in.-thick day-old brioche slices, crusts removed (about 11 oz.)
  • Cinnamon sugar, for dusting (optional)-sugar for dusting, optional


Step 1

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, milk, ⅓ cup of the sugar, the lemon zest, egg yolks, and vanilla bean seeds. Cover and refrigerate to infuse for 6–24 hours. 

Step 2

Cut the bread into six 4-inch squares, then arrange in a single layer in a medium baking dish. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the custard mixture evenly over the bread. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly soaked, about 24 hours.

Step 3

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Place a large wire rack over a few layers of paper towels. Using a spatula, transfer the bread slices to the rack to dry slightly, about 30 minutes. (Discard any remaining liquid or reserve for another use.) 

Step 4

Place the wire rack with the bread over a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the slices are dry at the edges but still pale, 8–12 minutes. Set aside until cool. 

Step 5

Position a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the remaining ⅔ cup of sugar evenly over the bread slices. Broil, rotating the baking sheet halfway through cooking (and checking the toasts every minute or so to prevent burning), until the tops are amber in color, 3–5 minutes. 

Step 6

Transfer to a platter, dust with cinnamon sugar if desired, and serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.  

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