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Recipe: Leche Frita con Plátano Caramelizado

Otherwise known as Fried Milk Custard with Caramelised Bananas.

I bought a new cookbook the other day: My Basque Cuisine by Ash Mair. It’s the type that inspires, with its nice hard cover and its glossy pages with images that bleed to the edges.

Mission? Something sweet. Flicking through the dessert section at the back I came across these tasty treats.

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They’re pretty delicious, but they do take quite a while to make and require a few extra hours to set in the fridge. I actually left it overnight and finished the next day. If it’s just two or three people, I’d cut the recipe in half. It makes quite a few.

Also, I’d probably skip the bananas next time and just have it on its own with a bit of cinnamon and sugar on top, or maybe a different type of fruit like raspberries. (Then again, I have something against hot bananas after eating fried plantains daily in Colombia for six months…)

Ingredients for main dessert:

  • 500 ml full cream milk
  • 5cm length of a cinnamon stick
  • zest from 1/2 of an orange
  • 1 egg
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 3 tbs plain (all purpose) flour
  • 4 tbs cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 20g butter

Ingredients for frying stage:

  • 3 eggs, whisked until smooth
  • 250g plain (all purpose) flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • Ground cinnamon

Ingredients to caramelise bananas:

  • 4 bananas, peeled and sliced into 3
  • 80ml water
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 30g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Start off with an 8×8 inch pan. Grease it and line with cling film.

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Next, you’ll need the milk, cinnamon and orange.

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First, the fun part: zesting! I did the whole thing but it’s up to you how orangey you want it to taste.

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Now put the milk, cinnamon stick and orange zest in a pan and simmer. Then remove from the burner and steep for about five minutes.

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While that’s steeping gather together the egg, sugar and both types of flour.

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Whisk the egg and sugar. Then add both flours.

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Keep up the whisking until you’re left with a creamy paste.

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Now back to the milk. Pass it through a sieve to get ride of any lumps and bits and pieces. Then pour it in to the flour mixture while whisking continually until well combined. Next, put it back into a clean pan and heat while stirring continuously with a rubber spatula. When it gets really thick and starts bubbling, turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

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After 10 minutes of simmering, remove it from the heat and add in the butter.

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Pour it into the 8×8 inch pan and smooth it out with a spatula.

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Cover it with another layer of cling film and get ready to enjoy an intermission. The custard has to set in the fridge for at least three hours now. When you come back, it’s for the finishing touches.

First step to prepare the custard for serving is to turn it out onto a board.

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Chop it into 12 finger like pieces.

After that, it’s time for the frying step. Put the flour on a plate. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Note, the recipe calls for three eggs, but I only used one, which was plenty.

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Coat each finger in flour and then dip in the egg. 

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You’ll want to put them into a colander to drain a bit.

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When you’ve finished with that, prepare to fry. Heat up the oil on medium high. Put each finer back in the flour for a second coating and then place in the oil for about 1-2 minutes on each side or until they turn a nice golden brown.

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When suitably golden, lay them on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil, then transfer to a plate and sprinkle them with plenty of cinnamon.

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You can eat them like this, or carry on and create a topping like the caramelised bananas. First, chop them into strips.

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For this step, you’ll need the bananas, water, sugar, vanilla, and butter.

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In a clean frying pan, pour half the water and add the sugar. Heat on high until the sugar starts to caramelise.

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Add the butter and the banana slices. Toss for a few minutes so they are all nice and coated. Then add the rest of the water and the vanilla. Keep stirring for about 30 seconds and then remove from the heat.

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Add your topping to your leche frita and voila! Dessert.

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