Capirotada is a sweet and savory lenten dish. Posting a recipe for such a favorite is like asking to be run over with criticism because the ways it’s made are as varied as the regions that it’s made in. There is no “right way” to make it. Here, I am going to give general instructions for making Capirotada that you might find offered both in the non-neighboring states of Sonora and Michoacan.
In Mexico, the choice of cheese for this dish is usually a fresh, white cheese. In the United States, yellow cheeses are more popular. To compromise, you could use a little of each. In some Mexican states, the bread pudding is made with milk or Lechera, but other states prefer a miel, or honey syrup made with piloncillo and canela, Mexican cinnamon. Some people use cloves as a spice while others use star anise. There are even arguments over whether the bread must be fried in manteca before it is coated with the syrup. Well, if you must… but I won’t.
One interesting trick that some insist upon doing is lining the bottom of your olla, or casserole dish, with day-old tortillas
to prevent the bread and syrup from sticking to the bottom. I sort of like this idea. I did it. It worked.
So here goes, a (not the) recipe for Capirotada, and it is healthied up:
6 stale bolillos, torn or sliced into 1/2″ chunks (for gluten-sensitivity, use Udi’s gluten free dinner rolls or french baguettes, or you could replace the white bolillos with a whole grain organic bread.)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
3 cups water
2 piloncillos, crushed (about 2 cups)
4″ piece of stick cinnamon
1 whole clove or star anise
1 large tomato (to be strained out)
1/2 medium onion (to be strained out)
1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans or peanuts
1/2 cup blanched almonds, slivered
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 pound Panela cheese (or use 1/4 lb. Panela and 1/4 lb. manchego.)
4-5 day old corn tortillas (optional)
Note: You can also add cilantro to the syrup, to be strained out, or apples, dried apricots or other fruits to layer between the pieces of
bread. It’s your recipe, really, so have fun with it.
(Makes about 8 servings)
1. Heat oven to 350° F (175° C)
Prepare a 9″x13″ baking dish or casserole dish, or line the bottom with day-old corn tortillas.
2. In a medium saucepan, mix water, piloncillo, cinnamon, clove or anise, tomato, onion and cilantro. Bring to a boil, then simmer 5-10 minutes or until slightly thickened into a syrup. Pour through a strainer and discard solids. Keep syrup warm.
3. In a prepared casserole dish, layer 1/3 of the bread slices. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the raisins, nuts and cheese. Drizzle about 1/4 or less of the syrup over this layer, letting it soak into the bread. Continue layering bread, raisins, nuts and cheese, sprinkling each with syrup. Finish with a layer of cheese. Pour the rest of the syrup over the whole dish. *Cool Trick*: If the syrup has sunk to the bottom, cover your casserole dish and carefully invert it partially over a bowl to drain out some of the syrup. Then you can drizzle over the top layers again.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, until the top layer of cheese is bubbling and browned. Serve warm.