Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)

This is one of my most prized recipes. Capirotada is normally served during Lent and Easter, but I make it for Christmas also. While at the airline, I ate lunch at a little Mexican hole-in-the-wall restaurant, Rosita's, at 24th Street and Buckeye in Phoenix. Sadly, a new freeway eventually took this restaurant out. This is the recipe that they gave me, totally written out in Spanish (there wasn't a soul who worked there who spoke English). They served this all during Lent every year, and I had it every workday that I was in town. Such great memories!

Capirotada

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 4 bolillo rolls*
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 cup raw peanuts or toasted pecans or walnuts
  • 2 cups grated longhorn Cheddar cheese
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 piloncillo cones
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 cup rum-soaked raisins or chopped figs

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Slice bolillo rolls or French bread and place on a cookie sheet. Butter the tops of the slices. Bake for a few minutes until just barely golden.
  3. In a pot, add water, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Bring to a soft boil. This may take a while since the piloncillo is very hard (think brown sugar that has gone hard). Stir as the piloncillo dissolves.
  4. In an oven-safe casserole dish or large cast iron skillet, arrange bread slices, followed by half of the nuts, half of the raisins and one third of the cheese. Spoon over the top about one third of the cooked piloncillo syrup.
  5. Continue with the second layer, adding more bread, remaining nuts, one third of the raisins, one third of the cheese and piloncillo syrup.
  6. For the third layer, lay down bread, remaining raisins, cheese and enough piloncillo syrup to reach the top layer. Do not over-fill as this will result in overflowing during baking.
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cheese is completely melted.

Notes

* French bread may be used instead.

Buttering the tops of the bolillo rolls will give the finished product a butter-rum flavor.

Rosita's made this most of the time with figs, but at other times used raisins. The restaurant did not soak the figs or raisins in rum, but suggested that for home use it would be great, and it is!

This recipe can be easily doubled, but use a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.