Tocino de Cielo


This week is about the Spanish pudding “Tocino de Cielo”, or translated into English a “Pig from Heaven”. Perhaps if you were to make a pig of yourself with this Spanish pudding you would end up in heaven? Talking of pigs, does anyone know what an “enviropig” is? Well I didn’t, at least until recently.

English, as most languages, is growing in size. I honestly think there is a secret society out there made up of English teachers, translators and writers whose sole purpose is to invent new words and thereby keep themselves in employment. I can just see them now, swearing a secret oath of allegiance on their holy tome, The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)!

It is almost impossible to calculate the number of words in a language. Firstly words are being added all the time whilst others are falling into disuse. Secondly existing words can take on new meanings. A good example of this is when a ship docks at a port. The word dock is now used for when spaceships join in space. Should we therefore count the word twice?

Most experts would seem to agree that English has more words than any other language and that the total number of words is around 1 million. For example the OED lists about 500,000 words; with a further half-million technical and scientific terms that are still uncatalogued. Compare this to the estimated 50 to 60 thousand words in Old English and we can get an idea of just how much the language has grown.

I am a good runner, even though I say so myself. I have reached the stage where I can run without thinking about my extremities. I don’t have to think about my legs, which is a distinct advantage with the steep hills I have to run up where I live. I can therefore let my mind drift….. If you are not a sportsman, think of dancing perhaps, where you can move along without having to concentrate on the beat, or even driving, when it gets so automatic you don’t have to think about when to change gear.


Running and letting you mind wander is a great way to relax, it is also when I think about what I am going to write in my articles. It also makes me run faster as I have to get home quickly to write my thoughts down before I forget them!

I was thinking of enviropigs and whether we actually need a new word for every new concept. Relatively recently for example I got caught out by the word “hoodie”! I saw the word and didn’t know what it meant. Who would have thought that it was a hooded sweatshirt and why isn’t the adjective plus noun construct of “hooded sweatshirt” enough?

Of course if something is really important to a society it is reflected in their language, like food for Spaniards. They have a different word for the verb “to eat” depending upon the time of day:

Eat a sandwich in the morning is “desayunar un sandwich”

Eat a sandwich mid-morning is “almorzar un sandwich”

Eat a sandwich at noon is “comer un sandwich”

Eat a sandwich mid-afternoon is “merendar un sandwich”

Eat a sandwich in the evening is “cenar un sandwich”

So now you know why I live in Spain, the food is excellent.

So perhaps food is not so important to the Anglo-Saxons as there is only the one word, but perhaps enviropigs and hoodies are?

So what else was important enough to be added in the OED last year? Well amongst many others, a few of my favourites are:

  • Carnap, and no this is not falling asleep in your car, this is like kidnapping but involving cars not people.
  • Declutter, basically to tidy up. This one really makes no sense to me but I’m not an etymologist!
  • Skort, combination of skirt with shorts as seen on tennis courts.
  • Staycation, a holiday where you stay at home.

and last but not least:

  • Enviropig, which are of course genetically modified pigs that produce manure with a lower phosphorus content. I am not sure what the difference would be if you were to get some on your shoe…….

So what better way to pig-out than with a Spanish Tocino de Cielo! It uses cheap ingredients, is relatively easy to make and can make a nice centrepiece at your next candlelit supper.

Tocino de Cielo

Makes a 16cm diameter pudding



250g Sugar

125ml Water


50g Sugar

25ml Water

1/4 Lemon

6 Egg Yolks

1 Egg


The quickest and easiest way of making this pudding is in a pressure cooker. You will need a mould that fits inside your pressure cooker.

To make the syrup:

Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Increase the temperature and boil strongly, stirring occasionally, until the syrup reaches 105ºC. Do not let it go past or it will be too thick.


If you have no thermometer then just boil for about 5 minutes. You should feel that the syrup is starting to thicken.

If the pan has a thick base that retains the heat, once you reach the required temperature then take it off the heat and sit it in water to stop the temperature from going any higher.

Leave to cool.

Meanwhile make the caramel:

Put the sugar, water and a good squeeze of lemon juice in the bottom of the mould. If you can use a light coloured mould then all the better as it is easier to see the colour change against the lighter background.


Boil strongly but do NOT stir. If the mixture is browning irregularly then incline the pan gently to mix the contents. When you have a nice golden brown colour throughout remove from the heat and leave to cool.


With the syrup and caramel now cool, make the tocino. Beat the yolks and the whole egg gently. Slowly drizzle in the syrup, again beating gently. The mixture needs to be well mixed but it should not be frothy nor full of bubbles.

Pour the mixture through a sieve over the caramel base. The sieve ensures there are no lumps in the finished tocino.

Wrap the mould well in tin foil.

Place a trivet in the pressure cooker and place the mould on top. Pour in enough boiling water to come part way up the mould. Seal the pressure cooker and bring it up to the high pressure mark (normally around 15lb’s pressure). When the pressure is reached, turn the heat down and maintain this pressure for 20 minutes.

Leave the pressure cooker to cool down to room temperature then open and take out the tocino.

Chill in the fridge before eating. I find it best to serve cool rather than cold. If you are going to leave the tocino in the fridge for some time, I would recommend taking it out well before eating to ensure it is not too cold.

So, as you can see from the photographs, this recipe produces a classy looking pudding with a beautiful glossy shine to the caramel……. and all it takes is sugar and eggs! The tocino was supposedly invented in the 14th Century in Jerez de la Frontera. There it was common to use the egg whites to clarify the wines. As they were loath to throw the yolks away, they invented this pudding to use them up.

This recipe does not produce something that is large in size, but a little goes a long way. I like it on its own, but a little whipped cream does go rather well with it. Don’t add too much, or indeed any sugar to the cream, so as to offset the sweetness of the tocino.

As always, please send me any comments or questions you might have.


tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml

tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml

Imperial to Metric Measurement:

1 oz – 28g

1 lb – 16 oz – 454g

1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml

2016 Lincoln W. Betteridge