Mexican Bread Pudding: A Lenten Tradition
Capirotada As A Main Meal
A Lenten tradition in many Hispanic homes is enjoying a Mexican Bread Pudding, called Capirotada (pronounced cop-e-roe-ta-da), as a main dish meal. This pudding is basically made of bread, nuts, fruit, cinnamon, brown sugar and cheese. If you dine at several Spanish homes during this season, you will most likely get a different version of this dish each time.
When my mother served this dish, most of my siblings loved it and would devour it in very little time. I, however, did not particularly care for the dish, as it had little taste for me as a main meal. I always hoped my mom would return to the kitchen and bring out additional food choices, but it never happened. The truth is, as a child, I always thought that raisins were a poor substitute for chocolate chips (yes, I grimaced even when she put them in the oatmeal cookies she baked) and to me the whole dish was just a dessert with little flavor.
Now however, I make this dish because it is a great meatless dish choice for Lent and I have learned to love the flavors of the ingredients mixed together, even the raisins! And, somehow my mom did manage to convince me that the dish was worth serving as a family meal. As she knew, the cheese and nuts provide much needed protein during this meatless season. I do have my own recipe version of this as well, which I will share with you below.
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How Can One Dish Be So Versatile?
As I previously mentioned, this dish can be served many ways. It is similar to the chili recipes we enjoy in the states. For example, I have traveled throughout the US and have found chili to contain a large variety of meats. Some chili meat choices I have experienced are buffalo, turkey (not so bad), possum, rattlesnake, iguana and gator. Not that we will see any of this in Capirotada, but you can understand how a recipe will change to meet the ideals of the region or culture.
It is also hiemal and served more often during the early months of the year, becoming almost a comfort food. And, I suppose that if one chose to do so, it would serve as a good dessert for company. Some families do add mincemeat to the dish, which gives it a little more of a "meat" taste. Let's look at some of the ingredients that can be varied with, included or substituted.
- Bread: French bread, white bread, biscuits
- Cheese: Colby, Monterrey Jack, Queso Blanco (Mexican Cheese)
- Raisins: Cranberries, Blueberries, Apricots, Figs, Dates, Apples
- Nuts: Almonds, Pecan, Peanuts, Walnuts
- Sugar: Piloncillo Cone (Brown Sugar), Turbinado Sugar, Agave Syrup, Honey
The Piloncillo sugar cone mentioned above can be found in most Mexican grocery stores. It is a solid packed dark brown sugar that is placed in the saucepan and does melt down with the heat. (See the Amazon link below for a picture of the cone). So, if you decide to try this recipe, feel free to add new ingredients of your choice. It may become a new capirotada trend!
- 1 1/4 cup brown sugar or 1 piloncillo cone
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 3 or 4 cinnamon sticks
- 5 cups (1/2 inch thick) cubed French bread (can use one loaf of bread) toasted
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup shredded cheese
Combine the first three ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. For a sweet, tangy flavor you can also add half of an orange (medium size, boil peel and all) and three to four cloves to this syrup mixture. Reduce heat; simmer ten minutes. Discard cinnamon sticks, orange and cloves. Note: you may want to keep this syrup on low while you complete the other steps to the recipe.
Layer in a buttered casserole dish the bread, nuts, raisins (I add cubed apple pieces), and butter. Pour the warm syrup over the entire layered food, making sure that you evenly distribute the syrup over all the ingredients. I will pour a half-cup of warm water over the dish if the syrup doesn't soak everything. This is to ensure the bread softens into a pudding texture. Top with cheese.
Cover the dish with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for twenty minutes. Uncover and bake an additional fifteen minutes or until the cheese is a golden brown. Serve warm.
Traditions That Carry On
This morning I made capirotada and enjoyed every last bit of it with a cup of coffee. It reminded me that a tradition catches on because it begins in the heart and captures your soul. I plan to make this for my grandchildren as well so that they too can experience and learn from this warm family tradition.
If you have your own version of this recipe, please mention it below. Also, listing Lenten food traditions your family enjoys would only add interest to this hub article.
Amount per Serving
(Feeds 8 - 10 people)
Calories from fat: 9.3g
Saturated Fat: 4.4g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.9g