October 25, 2010

Tortas Fritas–Rainy Day Fried Bread

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This morning as I bustled around getting ready to take Esteban to preschool, the wind was blowing but the sun was shining; an autumn chill was in the air.  On our drive, the weather was a bizarre mix that defines Colorado's typically atypical seasonal weather–bright morning sun in the East, and a wall of black clouds looming on the horizon.  Miraculously, a bright rainbow was seen, too, and it seemed to lead right to our son's preschool–the thought of his teachers 'bringing' the rainbow to school just delighted him.  After drop-off, I lingered to talk to another mom and coo over her new baby, and by the time I left ten minutes later, the weather had completely changed.  It was now a despicable, blustery mess.

We have an expression in Colorado:  "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute!"  It sums up our mercurial climate perfectly, since things here can change in a heartbeat.  I dashed to my car.  The wind was whipping fiercely, gold leaves skittered sideways across the road, and icy rain pelted my windshield.  I only had one thought as I raced home.

 


 

Tortas Fritas.

Tortas Fritas are a rainy day delicacy, as told by my husband, who used to make them in his mother's cozy kitchen on days just such as this.  He and his brother, Marcos, would play with the dough balls, shaping them into the shapes only the imaginations of little boys can discern, before their mother would fry the dough up, sprinkle the fried dough with sugar, and serve them piping hot.  I can't imagine a better place to be on a chilly day when playing outside is verboten, can you?

Tortas Fritas are a cousin to Native American Fry Bread, French Creole Beignets, and the Sopaipillas, found in parts of Mexico and the American Southwest. (They are, in fact, called Sopaipillas in some parts of Argentina and Uruguay, too.)  The etymology of the word is from the word Xopaipa, which (like 40% of the words in contemporary Spanish) was a word used by the Arabs of the (Spanish) Iberian peninsula meaning 'bread soaked in oil.' 

Whatever you choose to call it, there's a reason this bread is loved by so many cultures alike–it's delicious, comforting, and makes the perfect rainy day treat.  Now excuse me while I cozy up with a blanket, some yerba mate, a good read, and a plate of Tortas Fritas–I have a storm to watch!

Find me on facebook:  Rebecca Caro or Fans of From Argentina With Love, on twitter: @RebeccaCaro, and you can reach me by email at rebeccatcaro@hotmail.com.

You may also enjoy Tortas Fritas from Cocina de Mama, Utilisima, and Epicurious. More information on Tortas Fritas from Seashells & Sunflowers and From Uruguay .

This video from Utilisima, which shows making Tortas Fritas using a food processor, is excellent!  It's in Spanish, and the chef in the video has a wonderful accent!  There are also a number of videos on YouTube.

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Tortas Fritas

Fried Bread

The traditional recipes for Tortas Fritas call for grasa de vaca, or beef lard, I've chosen here to replace it with butter, and to fry it in vegetable oil.  You will also see variation in using eggs, and warm milk or warm water, rather than a combination of the two.  Tortas Fritas are traditionally served on a rainy day with yerba mate.

6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

about 1/3 cup warm milk

about 1/3 cup warm water

vegetable oil (or other neutral oil), for frying (about 2 cups)

Granulated sugar, for topping (about 1/2 cup)


BY HAND METHOD

Heat the oil for frying in a large, deep skillet.  Meanwhile, mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center of the flour, and pour in the melted butter.  Heat the water and milk together until hot, but not boiling.  Mix the four and butter, and add in the milk and water mixture, reserving a little of the milk/water combination.  You'll want just enough moisture to make a smooth, uniform dough, not make it mushy.  Mix the dough well, adding more of the milk/water mixture if needed.

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead well, making a smooth, uniform dough.  Divide the dough into 12 balls, rolling them between the palms of your hands; they should be roughly the size of an egg, and let rest 10 minutes.  Roll the dough into a circular shape using your hand, and then a rolling pin.  Poke a hole in the center.  Place into the heated oil, being careful of splattering.  (Three or four can be fried at once, depending on the size of your skillet.) Your oil should be very, very hot–about 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fry until golden on the side facing down (about 20 to 30 seconds) and then using tongs, flip the Torta Frita and repeat the frying on the other side.

Remove to drain on paper towels, and then sprinkle with the granulated sugar just before serving.

FOOD PROCESSOR METHOD

Heat the oil for frying in a large, deep skillet.  Meanwhile in the bowl of the food processor, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well.  Add in the melted butter and process until combined, and heat the milk and the water combined.  Add the hot milk/water combined a little at a time until the dough comes together and becomes uniform, but not too wet.

Remove the dough from the processor and turn out onto the counter.  Knead well, making a smooth, uniform dough.  Divide the dough into 12 balls,

rolling them between the palms of your hands; they should be roughly the size of an egg, and let rest 10 minutes.  Roll the dough into a circular shape using your hand, and then a rolling pin.  Poke a hole in the center.  Place into the heated oil, being careful of splattering.  (Three or four can be fried at once, depending on the size of your skillet.)  Your oil should be very, very hot–about 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fry until golden on the side facing down (about 20 to 30 seconds) and then using tongs, flip the Torta Frita, and repeat the frying on the other side.

Remove to drain on paper towels, and then sprinkle with the granulated sugar just before serving.

 

3 Responses to “Tortas Fritas–Rainy Day Fried Bread”

  1. Yes, it’s great fun to make these when it’s drizzly and dreary out. The best torta frita that I’ve had recently was back in March when I visited Bariloche. We stopped at this amazing waterfall on a foggy, chilly morning, and there was a tiny restaurant out near the parking lot serving torta frita and hot chocolate. They were out of this world! Thanks for the recipe. :)

  2. es tradicional en Bariloche servir Tortas fritas con Chocolate con leche, una infuciòn calentita para los frios de invierno, una señora amiga amasaba 50 kilos de harina todos los dìas, con la ayuda de sus hijos adolecentes, asi pagaban sus estudios,
    UNA ANÈGDOTA DE “LA VIDA REAL”
    un beso desde Bowen Mendoza, R.Argentina, Florencia.

  3. These look wonderful, like thin doughnuts? I agree with the previous commenter, i could totally down these with some hot chocolate on a bad weather day!

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