September 19, 2012

Capirotada~ Mexican Bread Pudding
{#MuyBuenoCookbook Spotlight and Cook-off}

Me amo Mexican Food
{I love Mexican Food}

You could say I grew up on the stuff!  Here in California, we have no shortage of excellent Mexican restaurants, markets and authentic little hole-in-the-wall joints that have a near-religious following.  I love spending a Sunday afternoon filling my basket with fresh produce and colorful ingredients from the local Mexican market.  I know my nopales from my aguacates, but when it comes to traditional Mexican desserts I'm still a bit of a novice.

I'm pleased to be sharing my first adventure in making a traditional Mexican dessert as part of the Muy Bueno Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-off. This beautiful cookbook was lovingly written by three generations of family and is filled with vibrant pictures, rich stories and recipes for authentic Mexican comfort food. 

For week one, we were given a choice between a sweet or savory dish.  I'm a believer that some of the best culinary experiences come from pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones, so I went with the sweet! The selection, a dessert containing cheddar cheese and raisins (which I loathe), was a perfect challenge.  

"Say the word capirotada to a Latino and it conjures up all sorts of childhood memories...the smell of the piloncillo and spices simmering on Mom's stove...." -- Muy Bueno ~ Three Generations of Authentic Flavors

Capirotada, a Mexican bread pudding is often enjoyed by Latino families during Lent, Christmas and other religious holidays.  Bolillos (Mexican French rolls) are soaked in  rich spiced syrup made from the piloncillos (pressed unrefined sugar), cinnamon and cloves.  Layers of the bread are alternated with raisins and grated cheese, and the whole thing is baked until golden and bubbling.

Each ingredient is symbolic -- the bread for the body of Christ, the  syrup for his blood, the cloves are the  nails on the cross, the cinnamon sticks symbolize the cross, and the melted cheese represents the Holy Shroud.

I was eager to cook with piloncillos, but dubious about the raisins and cheese.  The verdict -- loved it all!  The balance of flavors is perfect -- the cheese is subtle, the raisins plump, tart and sweet, the syrup complex, but not overly spiced.  It's a beautifully choreographed dish, well worth the four hours it takes to make.


(Mexican Bread Pudding)
from the Muy Bueno Cookbook

Yield:  8-10 servings
  • 4 bolillo rolls or French rolls
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 12 oz. piloncillo cones (Mexican brown sugar)
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 cups cheese (Longhorn Cheddar or Colby), shredded (I used a mild domestic cheddar)
  • 1 cup raisins (I used golden) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut rolls in ½ inch slices and butter both sides, layer on a baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes on each side, until lightly toasted and dry. Remove and cool.

Combine water, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, creating a syrup. Simmer syrup uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, covered for 2 hours. Pour through a strainer and discard cinnamon sticks and cloves. Set syrup aside.

Spray 8 x 10 ½” baking dish with non-stick spray, layer ingredients in the following order: a third of the toasted bread, third of the raisins, third of the cheese, and 1 1/2 cups syrup evenly over cheese. Wait 15 minutes and layer another third of the bread, raisins, cheese, and 1 1/2 cups syrup evenly over cheese. Let soak for another 15 minutes, and again top with the remaining bread, raisins, cheese, and syrup evenly over bread. Before baking let set for another 15 minutes.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with nonstick spray and bake 40 minutes, uncover and bake until cheese is golden brown about 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve warm.

Stay tuned for weeks 2 and 3 of the Muy Bueno Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-off.

Next week is "Blogger's Choice".  I can't wait to pick a recipe!  Right now I'm torn between Stacked Red Enchiladas, the Scallop and Cucumber Cocktail, and the Beef Brisket Tacos.  What sounds good to you?

In WEEK 3 I'll be sharing a full review of the book along with an opportunity for you to win a copy!

*This post is part of the Muy Bueno Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-Off sponsored by Hippocrene and hosted at girlichef*


  1. Hi Jenn,
    Your post is great! We loved the Mexican Bread Pudding, Muy Bueno is a beautiful cookbook. Hope you are having a great week.
    Miz Helen

  2. Terrific post. I too loved the salsa and the bread pudding. What a beautiful cookbook. I have no idea what I am making next week but I am going to have fun figuring it out.

  3. Nice post! I like that you decided to make something that contained ingredients you don't like. Good for you!

  4. This is definitely new to me, and I really LIKE what I see!
    I'm sure my family would love this

  5. Wow - how fun Jenn!! I love bread pudding - this would be fun to try! Where did you find the piloncillos?

  6. I also love how easily we can find authentic of my favorite Mexican Supermarkets is Vallarta. Your capirotada looks wonderful.

  7. I'm SO happy that you tried it AND loved it!! I love this combination, as well and can't wait to actually find the time to make a batch.

    p.s...I LOVE your plate!


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