Capirotada is a Mexican Bread Pudding full of cinnamon, fruit, and nuts that is eaten during the religious season of Lent.
Capriotada (pronounced KA-pee-rho-TA-tha) is a traditional Mexican bread pudding that is eaten during Lent. In particular, it is served on Good Friday, the day celebrating Christ’s Passion.
Capirotada: Not Your Average Bread Pudding
Capirotada de Agua is different from many bread puddings that you might be familiar with because there are no eggs in the soaking mixture. This means that the pudding doesn’t have that characteristic fluffy, eggy taste and texture. Rather, it has a crumbly texture that is accentuated by the raisin and peanut filling. After baking, it becomes like delicious layered French toasty, crisp on the top and soft and sweet on the bottom.
The pudding is traditionally made of toasted bolillo rolls, but French bread or a French baguette makes a nice substitute. The bread is soaked in a syrup that is sweetened with a Latin American unrefined cane sugar known as piloncillo. You can find cones of piloncillo in Mexican grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, brown sugar will give you a very similar flavor.
To make the dish, bread slices are layered with dried fruit and nuts. The most traditional combination is what we have used in ours today: raisins and peanuts. But, feel free to experiment with other fruit and nuts that you like. Dates, apricots, pecans, almonds, pine nuts, and walnuts are all common additions.
Cheese? Yes. Cheese!
When we first saw that this bread pudding was supposed to be topped with Mexican cheese, we were skeptical. But, we forged ahead in the traditional manner, and we’re so glad we did.
A sprinkling of Cotija or Queso Fresco gives the dish a wonderful sweet and salty, creamy and nutty combo. Don’t skip the cheese!
(If you don’t have Cotija or Queso Fresco, grated Monterrey Jack or Muenster cheeses would make a good substitute.)
Religious Symbolism in Capirotada
What really makes Capirotada special is the symbolism behind the ingredients that are used. The dish itself tells the story of Christ’s Passion, which is why it is traditionally eaten on Good Friday before Easter.
The bread represents the Body of Christ and the syrup represents His blood. The cinnamon sticks used to flavor the syrup represents the wood of the cross and the cloves represent the nails. The cheese represents the Holy Shroud, the burial cloth that covered his body.
We couldn’t think of a more perfect dish to call to mind Christ’s Passion during Lent or any day of the year.
Recipe can be doubled to fit in a 9x13 baking dish
- 2 c water
- ½ c packed brown sugar or grated piloncillo
- 1 large cinnamon stick,
- 1 large whole clove,
- ½ loaf French bread, sliced ½ inch thick
- 2 Tb butter, melted
- ½ c raisins or dried fruit of choice
- ½ c peanuts or nut of choice
- 1 ½ oz Cotija or Queso Fresco cheese or shredded Monterey Jack or Muenster
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- In a medium saucepan, mix together water, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, and whole clove. Cover the saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, brush the bread slices with butter and place them in the oven to toast for 12-15 minutes, until golden.
- Use the remaining melted butter to butter an 8x8 baking dish.
- Cover the bottom of the buttered baking dish with a layer of the toasted bread slices. Sprinkle the raisins and peanuts over the top of the bread layer. Add another layer of toasted bread.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and clove from the syrup. Carefully pour the warm syrup over top of the layers in the dish.
- Sprinkle the cheese over top of the ingredients in the baking dish.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
- Bake the Capirotada for 25-30 minutes, until all the syrup has been absorbed. Let the dish rest, covered, for 10-20 minutes before serving.
- Capirotada can be served warm or cold.