My first job, fresh out of high school, was at a Mexican bakery, “El Mejor Pan,” owned by my friend Angelica’s parents. I was introduced to the world of Mexican bread up close! But the first time I tried capirotada, was the following year, when I was hired for a job in the office of “La Poblana Tortilla Factory.” That, too, was owned by another of my friend’s parents, Julie Villarreal. Thank goodness for my friend’s parents. They had no idea the inspiration they were instilling in me for everything that is Mexican. They had a very busy lunch counter at “La Poblana” and they would only make capirotada at Easter time and Christmas. That was my first real experience with eating a sweet, yet savory dish, that I never forgot! This is my interpretation of the capirotada that the ladies at La Poblana used to prepare. I would like to dedicate this post to my two best friends from my childhood, Angelica and Julissa. We had the best times!
Capirotada(Mexican Bread Pudding)
This recipe for capirotada was adapted from the capirotada that I enjoyed when I worked at La Poblano in Houston, Texas!
- 2 1/2 cups water
- Zest from 1 large orange
- 1 cup piloncillo or dark brown sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks broken in half
- 3 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground anise
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 3 ounces butter plus more for greasing
- 15 to 20 slices of Mexican bolillos or French bread let dry out overnight
- 1/3 cup pecans chopped, optional
- 1/3 cup toasted almonds chopped, optional
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts more traditional
- 8 ounces monterey jack shredded, not traditional
- 6 ounces panela or cotija cheese crumbled, more traditional
The night before, slice the bolillos into 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch slices and let sit out overnight.
Next day, preheat oven to 375º F. Generously grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter. Set aside.
Heat the water, orange juice, zest, Pikoncillo(sugar), cloves, cinnamon sticks, and anise in a pot over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add raisins and let simmer for 5 minutes without stirring.
Spread the butter onto both sides of each slice of bread and arrange on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn over and bake the other side for 5 minutes.
Line the base of the ovenproof dish with half the toast. Sprinkle over half of the cheese(both kinds) and nuts. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks and cloves from piloncillo syrup. Spoon 1/2 of raisin mix over toast. Repeat another layer, bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
If you would like a more moist bread pudding, I would suggest doubling the syrup recipe. It's best to have extra just in case there is more bread. If you like to thicken it, just cook it at medium low until it thickens.
It is more traditional to fry the day old bread in pork lard until golden brown.