Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)

Capirotada: Mexican bread pudding made with day-old bread, piloncillo, pecans, nuts, and spices. photo (c) Emma Farrer / Getty Images
  • 85 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 70 mins
  • Yield: about 8 servings

Bread puddings do not tend to be particularly photogenic dishes, but they certainly count as comfort food to millions of Latin Americans. This dish came to the New World with the Spanish, and nowadays each country or region has its special version. In Mexico, Capirotada is prepared mainly during Lent (the Christian season leading up to Easter), and is eaten as a dessert, breakfast, or snack.

This rich version of Capirotada, with apples, pecans, raisins, and plenty of spices, is full of texture and flavor. Top it with whipped cream or a generous spoonful of Mexican crema, if you like, to add yet another flavor element.

What You'll Need

  • 1/4 cup real butter
  • 6 cups day-old Mexican bread (bolillos, pan dulce, or a combination of both), cut into  cubes
  • 1 and 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound / 450 grams of piloncillo OR 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon whole anise seeds
  • 2 large or 3 small apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup raisins (soaked in warm water to soften)
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1 pinch salt

How to Make It

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet or sautee pan. Fry the bread cubes until golden. Set aside.

  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water, piloncillo or brown sugar, anise seeds, and cinnamon stick. Heat, stirring often, until sugar has dissolved. (This will happen relatively quickly with brown sugar, but will take much longer if you are using piloncillo.) Once sugar is dissolved completely, gently boil the mixture until the liquid becomes syrupy, about 6 minutes. Take syrup off of heat and set aside.

  1. Turn your oven on to 350 Fahrenheit / 175 Celsius to pre-heat.

    In a large bowl, combine apples, raisins, pecans, both kinds of zest, and cheese (queso fresco). Sprinkle ground cinnamon and cloves over the top of the fruit mixture and toss to incorporate. Add fried bread and carefully fold all ingredients together.

  2. Place half of the bread mixture into a large, buttered baking dish; pour half of the syrup over it. Add the remaining bread mixture and the remaining syrup. Put baking dish in oven and bake for about 35 minutes.

  3. Beat the egg yolks until foamy and smooth. Add the milk, sherry, and salt; stir until smooth. Pour this mixture over the partially cooked bread and bake for another 35 minutes or until top is golden.

  4. Take your Capirotada out of the oven and allow it to cool before serving. It can be eaten either warm or lukewarm. Store at room-temperature for a day or so, or refrigerate and reheat in microwave before eating.

Edited by Robin Grose