At first it seems a ridiculous idea, you cannot possibly fry milk! But there’s a trick to make that happen, which is to thicken milk with corn starch until it has the right consistency to be fried. The ingredients are relatively simple and the result is delicious (like most fried things, as a good friend of mine would say). There are no clear clues about the origins of this dessert, although it’s said that it comes from the region of Palencia, in Castile and León.
It’s mostly made in Northern Spain, but I tried my very first piece of Leche Frita in a bakery in the Southern city of Granada. It’s actually rather uncommon to find it in bakeries, since it’s one of those dishes that are mostly homemade. The original recipe uses dairy and eggs, but these can be easily veganised by using soya or almond milk and removing the eggs. Also, a gluten-free version is possible by replacing the flour with more corn starch.
Traditional Spanish fried milk
- 500 ml fresh whole milk or soya/almond drink
- 1 stick cinammon or ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/3 lemon peel
- 100 g sugar
- 40 g corn starch
- 2 beaten eggs (remove for vegan recipe)
- White flour (or more corn starch for gluten-free version)
- Sunflour oil for frying
- Extra sugar and cinnamon powder
Use a pot to heat the milk with the cinnamon and lemon. Stir throughout and bring to boil. Then set aside with a lid on for 15-20 min for the milk to infuse.
Remove the cinnamon sticks (if used) and the lemon peel. Stir the sugar in and leave milk to cool down to fridge or at least room temperature.
In a bowl mix a third of the cold milk with the corn starch until smooth. Then mix with the rest of the milk in a clean pot and place over medium-low heat. Stir throughout until the milk has significantly thickened and hardly drops of a spoon. This can take 15-20 minutes.
Pour the hot thickened milk into the mould, extending it evenly. Then leave to cool in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.
Prepare 3 bowls, one with the beaten eggs, one with white flour (or corn starch) and one with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.
Cut the thickened milk into rectangular pieces (about 6cm long) and roll each piece in flour (or corn starch), then egg and flour again. If making the vegan option, roll in flour only.
Bring sunflower oil to medium heat in a pan and fry a couple of pieces of thickened milk at a time until golden brown. Then remove and place over a plate with kitchen towel to absorb excess oil.
Before the pieces of fried milk get cold, dip them into the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Serve warm or cold.
For a Gluten-free option use corn-starch only.