Capirotada is a Mexican bread pudding that is traditionally made of leftovers during Lent. The surprising ingredient in this bread pudding is cheese, and capirotada also often contains raisins, pine nuts, and cinnamon. The recipe is ancient, but the name “capirotada” for a Mexican pudding dates to the 1880s.
Capirotada became popular in Texas and other parts of the United States in the 1930s, when recipes began appearing in American newspapers.
Capirotada (pronounced: Cah-pi-ro-ta-da) is a common Mexican bread pudding that is traditionally eaten during Lent. It is generally composed of toasted french bread soaked in mulled syrup, cheese (often with other dairy as well, such as butter or milk), raisins, and peanuts. The syrup is generally made with water, piloncillo Mexican brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, star anise (or aniseed), cloves, and peppercorns.
It is wheat bread to which raw sugar, cinnamon, cheese, butter, pecans, peanuts and raisins are added. These are identical ingredients to those used during the 1640s in New Spain to make breads and cakes. The ingredients and recipes have been recorded by the Holy Office of the Inquisition and saved to this day in the archives.
CAPIROTADA (A CHRISTMAS TRADITION)
MEXICAN BREAD PUDDING
6 thick slices of 2 to 3 day old French bread (sweet) cubed 3/4”
1 lg. Golden Delicious apple, pared, cored and sliced then diced (1/4 inch)
1/3 c. raisins
4 oz. shredded (medium fine) sharp cheddar cheese
3 lg. eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 to 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. grated orange rind
In a large bowl toss together bread, apple, raisins and cheese. Turn into a lightly buttered 1 1/2 quart round casserole. In a medium bowl beat eggs until foamy; add milk, granulated sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon; beat until blended; stir in orange rind. Pour over bread mixture. Bake uncovered in a preheated 325 degree oven 60 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
This is sort of the Mexican version of bread pudding. According to Jane Milton the dessert was originally created to use up leftovers before the Lenten fast.
I N G R E D I E N T S
1 small loaf crusty bread, a few days old
1/2 - 1/3 cup butter, softened (plus some for greasing the pan)
scant 1 cup brown sugar (or piloncillo, crushed)
1 stick canela (cinnamon)
1 2/3 cup water
3 tablespoons dry sherry
3/4 cup sliced almonds (plus a bit more for garnish)
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup grated Monterey Jack or mild Cheddar cheese
light cream for serving (...)
A Dictionary, Spanish and English, and English and Spanish
by Joseph Baretti
a new edition
Vol. 1. Spanish and English
London: Printed for F. Wingrave, et al.
Capirotada, s.f. a dish or sauce made with oil, cheese, eggs, and other ingredients.
8 January 1887, Dallas (TX) Morning News, pg. 4:
The meal was closed with coffee, chocolate, Mexican pudding, or “Capirotada Mejicana,” Mexican cigarettes and Mexican cordials.
Your Mexican Kitchen:
A Compilation of Mexican Recipes Practicable in the United States
by Natalie V. Scott
New York, NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
3 cups of molasses, or, better, cane syrup
15 slices of white wheat bread
6 tbsps. of lard
15 thin slivers of Chester cheese ( or any cheese that melts readily)
6 tbsps. of butter
Put the tomatoes and the onion in the syrup and let it boil gently 20 minutes; then strain, to have a nice clear syrup. Now the baking-dish—a nice roomy one. Put in the lard, and melt it. Then put in 5 slices of the bread, a sliver of cheese over each, dots of butter, a thick sprinkling of raisins and cinnamon; repeat this, making layers of bread with the cheese-raisin-cinnamon filling between, until the dish is full (about 3 layers of the slices of bread is good). Pour the syrup over all, filling the baking-dish.
Put the dish in a hot oven, hot enough so that the syrup will boil, and let it stay until the capirotada is cooked to pudding consistency.
Remember the warning of the introduction and be not deterred by the association of usually unrelated ingredients; this is a delicious pudding vaguely reminiscent of, but superior to, Betty Lund.
NOTE: Dark brown sugar may be used instead of syrup: 1 1/2 cups of sugar to 3 cups of water, making a syrup.
Cooking...South of the Rio Grande
by George Luther Nelson
San Antonio, TX: The Nolan Printing Company
1 loaf bread
1 teaspoon ground anise
3 sticks cinnamon
1 orange peel
1/4 lb. seedless raisins
2 wine glasses sweet wine
11 ounces Piloncillo (or brown sugar)
1/4 lb. white cheese
1/4 lb. yellow cheese
Dice the bread and fry in butter or toast in oven. Place the Piloncillo or brown sugar in a pint of water, with the anise, cinnamon, orange peel and cut lemon in a sauce pan to boil. Keep boiling slowly until this reduces to about one half. Then strain the liquid and let it cool. In a baking pan place a layer of bread and then a layer of sliced cheese of both varieties. Scatter raisins over this. Add another layer of bread and continue until all the material is used. Pour syrup over all. Place in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes. When it is removed from oven sprinkle with the wine and serve hot.
8 November 1935, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 8:
Capirotade (Bread, Raisins, Cheese and Syrup)
5 March 1937, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. 34, col. 4:
10 slices of buttered toast
1/2 pound grated Tillamook cheese
1 cup seedless raisins
1 good size onion, minced
1 piece of stick cinnamon
1 good piece of fresh parsley, chopped fine
6 or 8 pieces of panocha
4 tablespoons tomato puree
3 cups of water
2 tablespoons shortening
Grease well a casserole. Put layers of the toast, cheese and raisins alternately, placing the cheese last.
Heat the shortening and fry in it the onions lightly, add the puree and after a few seconds the water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, panocha, cinnamon and parsley. Boil till the panocha is dissolved and pour over the toast and bake slow for 30 minutes. Serve hot.
10 December 1937, Oakland (CA) Tribune, “International Kitchen” by Gladys Cronkhite, pg. 26B, cols. 4-5:
(A Dessert from Mexico.)
3 cups molasses
15 slices white bread
5 tablespoons lard
15 slices of cheese (be sure it’s the kind that melts readily and smoothly)
6 tablespoons butter
Place tomatoes, onions and molasses in saucepan and boil gently 20 minutes; stirring to achieve a nice clear syrup. Place the lard in a roomy oven proof baking dish which has been heated sufficiently to melt the lard. Arrange 5 slices of bread covered with slices of cheese, dot with bits of butter, add a thick sprinkling of raisins and dust with cinnamon. Repeat this until all ingredients have been used and making layers of bread with the cheese, raisin-cinnamon filling between. If your dish is of good size you should have three layers. Pour syrup over all. Place in hot oven (450 F.) and allow it to remain until the capirotada is cooked to pudding consistency.
Note: Remember this warning—do not be deterred by this association of usually unrelated ingredients. This is a delicious pudding vaguely reminiscent of, but superior, to Betty Lund.
Brown sugar may be substituted for the syrup, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar to 3 cups water.
25 January 1938, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, “Mexico’s Bread Has Personality; How About a Prussian for Tea?” by Betty Luther, pg. 9, cols. 6-8:
“Customers buy ‘roscas’ in Holy Week and take it to the church to be blessed,” said the pleasant plump clerk in the Pandia bakery at Seventh and S. El Paso streets. “Some people keep the blessed bread for years. Others eat it at once and feel very good. They buy day-old bread in Holy Week to make ‘capirotada,’ Holy Week pudding made with bread, milk, water, brown sugar, raisins and other fruits.”
4 February 1938, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 10B, col. 2:
3 cups cane syrup
15 slices white bread
6 tablespoons Borden’s butter
15 slices yellow cheese
1/2 cups pecan meats
Toast bread in oven (or fry, if desired). In a baking dish place a layer pf bread, then a layer of cheese, dot with butter and sprinkle with raisins and a little cinnamon. Repeat this, making layers of bread with the cheese-raisins-cinnamon filling between, until the dish is full. Pour syrup over all, filling the baking dish. Lightly sprinkle with chopped pecans, place in moderate oven for about 30 minutes, or until the capirotada is cooked to pudding consistency.
BIll Magee’s Western Barbecue Cookbook
by William Patrick Magee
Culver City, CA: Murray & Gee, Inc.
Capirotada, a Spanish pudding
11 March 1951, San Antonio (TX) Express, pg.1C, cols. 2-3:
“Capirotada” is a culinary medley of onion, garlic, tomato, pepper, cloves, cumin (comino), sugar, celery, parsley, raisins, almonds, pine-nuts and other nuts, plus grated cheese and bread. it varies, depending on individual recipes, from something resembling a plum pudding to something of a complicated turnover. In the pudding style, layers of toasted bread are interspersed between the various ingredients (first deep-fried), and then the whole structure is browned in the broiler until the cheese melts.
Eating In Mexico
by Amando Farga
Mexican Restaurant Association
CAPIROTADA—In Mexico, a dessert made of white bread fried in lard, with sugar, cheese, cinnamon, raisins and pine nuts.
19 March 1967, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section F, pg. 2:
4 cups water
1 pound brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
6 slices toasted bread
3 apples, sliced
1 cup peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 pound American cheese, cubed
1/2 teaspoon anice
Method: Boil water, sugar, cinnamon and anice together for 10 minutes. Butter a casserole and put in a layer of toasted bread cubes. Cover with the apple slices and sprinkle with some of the raisins, nuts, and cheese cubes.
Repeat the layer until all the ingredients are used. Remove stick of cinnamon from the syrup and pour the syrup over the capirotada.
Bake in a 350 F. oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot. Serves six.
17 February 1972, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section E, pg. 1:
Mexican Bread Pudding
1 quart water
1 pound brown sugar
3-inch stick cinnamon
1 whole clove
6 slices toast, cubed (or equivalent of leftover pound cake)
3 bananas or apples sliced
1 cup raisins
1 cup peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup chopped blanched almonds
1/2 pound Monterey cheese, cubed
Boil water, sugar, stick cinnamon and clove together until syrupy. Butter a casserole generously and put in a layer of bread or cake cubes. Cover with a layer of banana or apple slices and sprinkle with some of the raisins, peanuts, almonds and cheese cubes. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used. Remove stick cinnamon and clove from syrup and pour syrup over pudding. Bake in a moderate (350-F.) oven about 30 minutes.
Serve hot. Serves eight.
A Cook’s Tour of Mexico
by Nancy Zaslavsky
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
Amalia Rulfo de Fernandez’s
Capirotada Mexican Bread Pudding
BREAD PUDDING IS A CHEAP COMFORT FOOD and adored by both young and old. It’s a cinch to make using stale French bread, and any sweeteners that happen to be around—panela, brown sugar, sugar, honey, fresh fruit, or fruit juice. Fancier versions, traditionally served during Lent, include nuts, dried fruit, cheese, tomatoes, and onionws, also in sugar syrup.
Mexicans always fry stale bread first for bread pudding. A good alternative is to brush the bread with minimal butter and toast it in the oven. Amalia’s mother varied her family recipe after sampling bread pudding on a trip to Texas about forty years ago. She loved the custard-packed pudding her hosts offered and she still adds milk and eggs to her Mexican standby today. She also boils the syrup a full fifteen minutes until it turns to caramel and hardens when poured over the bread. it adds a delicious, crunchy texture. A traditional capirotada would have a greased casserole lined with tortillas (which are usually not eaten). The liquid sugar syrup is absorbed into the bread, so don’t boil it down. Pass a small pitcher of Creme (page 80). (...)
Mexican Bread Pudding
Bon Appétit | May 2003
In Mexico, this popular Lenten dessert is typically made with the versatile bolillos, or small bread rolls. Here, the bread is baked instead of sautéed before it is combined with the other ingredients. This bread pudding is traditionally served as a dessert, but the unusual addition of savory garnishes — roasted peanuts and aged cheese — also makes it a wonderful breakfast or brunch dish. (...)
Published Friday, May 12, 2006 by Matt Armendariz
Capirotada is a dish with a rich legacy. Also known as Mexican bread pudding, Capirotada is a dessert with as many variations as you can imagine. There is no one definitive recipe, it’s open to many broad interpretations. Perhaps this is why I enjoy it so much; it’s always different no matter where you go. But no matter where eat it, you can be assured that you’ll find the one ingredient that makes it Capirotada through and through: cheese.
Capirotada is traditionally served during Lent. My grandmother would make it a few times a year or whenever she found herself with a surplus of stale bread, and without fail it would disappear in seconds. There’s something about that savory bite of cheese hidden within the flavors of cinnamon, cloves and raisins. It’s a natural pairing, even if I did think it was strange as a child. Ah, how tastes change, no?
The history of the Capirotada is long and complex. As with many Mexican dishes, Capirotada traces its roots back to the old world, where various centuries-old Spanish cookbooks mention its predecessor. Even further back we see a distant relative mentioned by the Romans entitled Sala Cattaba, a mixture of bread, liquid (more on this later), savories such as vegetables, fowl, meat and fat, and a dressing that made of mint, pepper, celery, pennyroyal, pine nuts, vinegar, honey, water and cheese. Throughout history, this potted bread pudding has changed over time, but it has always managed to keep its sweet & savory element intact.
Fast-forward a couple of hundred years. It’s not clear exactly when the Capirotada made its official crossover into the world of sweets, but legend has it that meat was omitted sometime during the 19th century, mostly for religious observances. It’s this version that you’ll find throughout Mexico–if you’re lucky, that is. José Luis Juárez López, a food writer from Mexico, says that Capirotada is in danger of extinction and isn’t a part of too many food celebrations today. Certainly disheartening.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Thursday, January 24, 2008 • Permalink