Maria Elena's Capirotada
While this combination may sound strange to Americans, anyone
who likes traditional bread pudding will like capirotada.
loaves Mexican pan dulce (sweet bread), about 7 inches in diameter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 piloncillo cones (Mexican raw brown sugar; see note)
4 2-inch cinnamon sticks or two 4-inch cinnamon sticks
1/2 large tomato, chopped
4 whole cloves
1/2 large white onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 cups water
Optional fruit and nut add-ins: raisins, chopped banana, peeled chopped apple,
citron, candied pineapple, grated orange peel, shredded coconut, chopped roasted
unsalted peanuts, chopped walnuts, slivered blanched almonds, pine nuts
8 ounces dry Mexican cheese (queso seco or queso ranchero), grated (2 cups)
Cut the bread into 1/2-inch slices and save the heels for another use. Paint the
bread slices on both sides with oil. Place on cookie sheets and bake at 350
degrees until toasted and dry but not brown, about 5 minutes. Remove bread from
oven and set aside.
In a large saucepan on low heat, cook the sugar cones, cinnamon sticks, tomato,
cloves, onion and bay leaves in water until the sugar cones are melted, about 5
minutes. Bring to a boil and simmer syrup until thickened, about 7 minutes.
Strain out tomato, cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and onion and discard.
Set syrup aside.
Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or pan.
Layer in the following order: a third of the toasted bread slices, a third of
the fruit and/or nuts, a third of the cheese, a third of the syrup.
Repeat layers until all of the ingredients are used.
Place in oven, turn oven to 350 degrees and bake 30 minutes, or until heated
through and syrup is absorbed. The top of the custard should be brown and the
Serve hot right away or cool for 15 minutes before serving. Some people even
like it cold.
Note: Piloncillo, panela or rapadura are names for brown, unrefined sugar in the
form of small cones or flat cakes. It is made by pressing the natural juice out
of sugar cane and then cooking to reduce its water content.