Original Written February 18, 2015
Modified February 18, 2019
Every year, about this time, you can bet, I start thinking of Mi Familia’s y Mi Mama’s capirotada. A dessert made of toasted bread slices drenched in a sweet and spicy syrup. It is soft and sticky, but there were crunchy nuts, chewy raisins and a creamy tang to keep it from becoming cloying.
Capirotada (the name comes from a friar’s hat). And, was originally eaten savory in Spain. Sometime after capirotada reaches Mexico it evolved into a sweet dish.
This is a traditional Mexican dessert that is eaten primarily during Lent. The actual ingredients in the dish all have a symbolism connected to Lent and Easter.
The bread represents the Body of Christ, the syrup is his blood, the cloves are the nails of the cross, and the whole cinnamon sticks are the wood of the cross. The melted cheese stands for the Holy Shroud
There are many recipes on the Internet. As a young lady, growing up in the San Joaquin Valley of California, I recall families that added sliced onions or tomatoes and I was flabbergasted! But, women traditionally used the most basic of ingredients to make this old world traditional dessert.
Many, do not toast the French bread or birrotes. Which causes your capirotada to be overly mushy. My family always toasted the bread on a cookie sheet in the oven, spread with butter. Made the syrup. And added different fruits such as apple slices, banana slices, raisins and nuts. My family’s recipe usually used a cheddar cheese. I have tasted many many variations, all good. But, some families add eggs and milk. Making it more of a traditional bread pudding with a custard. Mine did not, the syrup was made with water, cinnamon sticks, cloves, piloncillio and other spices. Many families add a layer of corn tortillas on the bottom, my family did not. And many families also add Monterrey jack cheese, mine did not. This is one recipe I found that seems to be a good starter.
Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)
4 bolillo rolls or French rolls
4 1/2 cups water
12 ounces piloncillo or 1½ cups packed dark brown sugar
4 cinnamon sticks6 whole cloves
3 cups cheese (Longhorn Cheddar or Colby) shredded
1 cup raisins
4 tablespoons butter
Add sliced apples, chopped apricots, bananas, prunes, etc.
DIRECTIONS:Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut rolls in ½ inch slices and butter both sides, layer on a baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes on each side, until lightly toasted and dry. Remove and cool.
Combine water, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, creating a syrup. Simmer syrup uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, covered for 2 hours. Pour through a strainer and discard cinnamon sticks and cloves. Set syrup aside.
Butter your baking dish. Layer ingredients in the following order: a third of the toasted bread, third of the raisins, fruit of your choice, third of the cheese, and 1 1/2 cups syrup evenly over cheese. Wait 15 minutes and layer another third of the bread, raisins, fruit, cheese, and 1 1/2 cups syrup evenly over cheese. Let soak for another 15 minutes, and again top with the remaining bread, raisins, fruit, cheese, and syrup evenly over bread. Before baking let set for another 15 minutes.Cover the dish with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with nonstick spray and bake 40 minutes, uncover and bake until cheese is golden brown about 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve warm.
Abrazos y Besos