There are times when all you can serve is ‘comfort food’ and these deep-fried custard slices from Spain called Leche Frita fall well and truly into that category. I have seen even the most hardened “I don’t eat dessert” dinner guests who have weakened to ‘just the one’ and then ‘ well, maybe another one’!! Leche Frita is very easy to make, but you just have to begin preparations some hours before as the custard needs to set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
2 cups/ 500ml milk
Peeled rind of 1 lemon
4 tbsp sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
5 tbsp/75g butter, plus butter for dish
1½ cups/ 150g flour
4 egg yolks, plus 2 eggs
4 tbsp dry white breadcrumbs
Oil for deep frying
Cinnamon and sugar for dredging
Put the milk, lemon rind, sugar and vanilla bean in a saucepan, and bring to the boil slowly. Take the pan off the heat, remove the lemon rind and the vanilla bean. Let the milk cool.
Melt the butter in another saucepan until foaming and then add the flour; cook until the flour foams and turns pale golden, stirring all the time. Slowly add the warm milk, still stirring to prevent lumps – if need whisk lightly – then cook the sauce for 5 minutes on a low heat until it thickens. Remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks. Butter a shallow dish, then pour the custard into the dish and leave it to set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. (The important element here is that it should be capable of being cut into firm squares or triangles, if you prefer.)
Cut the custard into squares or triangles. Beat the eggs lightly and dip the pieces of custard first in the beaten egg, then in the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a deep-fat frier or deep saucepan, and fry the custard slices in batches until golden brown.
Take the custard slices out of the oil and drain them briefly on paper towels. Combine the sugar and cinnamon, and dredge the warm slices in the sugar mixture. Serve lukewarm or cold.