My first real job, right out of high school, was at a Mexican bakery. El Mejor Pan Bakery was owned by my friend Angelica’s parents. I was introduced to the world of Mexican bread up close! The first time I tasted capirotada, Mexican bread pudding, was the following year. I was hired at La Poblana Tortilla Factory to work in the office. This business was owned by my friend Julie’s parents.
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!
Mexican Bread Pudding Can Be a Meal In Itself!
Depending on what region of Mexico, the recipe has many variations. Some recipes for capirotada include tomatoes, tomatillos and bananas. This basic recipe I share with you today has nuts, raisins, cheese and syrup prepared with piloncillo(cane sugar) syrup. The cheese used varies from family to family.
Depending on what ingredients I may have available, my recipe can vary from time to time. Above there is a mix of berries, raisins and nuts.
And typically I will use Monterey jack cheese and some cotija or panela cheese. On this day I had this Mexican variety of Menonita cheese. It is creamy and is a good melting cheese.
Some recipes do not require the bolillo sliced bread to be toasted. I prefer to toast it in the oven so it holds up to all the syrup and ingredients that it will be baked with.
The sprinkles are added in some regions. I think it’s a fun finishing touch to the dish!
Capirotada(Mexican Bread Pudding)
- 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.