Some say Capirotada was invented as a way to use up leftovers before beginning the Lenten fast. It is also a way to include protein in your meal in form of cheese, since meat is forbidden during Holy week and Fridays leading up to Easter.
Every year, I look forward to eating capirotada for Lent. There really is no authentic capirotada recipe. Every Mexican family has their own version, but there are a few staples that must be included—without stale bread, a piloncillo (dark brown sugar) syrup, and cheese, it just isn’t Mexican Capirotada. Many include tomatoes, onions and even tortillas, adding to its rich and delicious complexity.
Usually, capirotada calls for raisins. This time, I decided to go wild and substitute raisins with pineapple. Call me crazy.
Other variations and substitutions:
- chopped bananas or apples
- chopped walnuts or pecans
- grated orange or lemon peel
- For bolillos, substitute stale French bread.
- For piloncillo, substitute packed dark brown sugar.
- Any mild melting cheese will do (monterrey jack, white cheddar)
6 stale bolillos, torn in 1/2″ chunks
4 1/2 C. water
2 piloncillo cones
4″ piece of stick cinnamon
3 whole cloves
1 cup coconut, shredded
1 cup peanuts
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 can of pineapple chunks, drained
1/2 Munster cheese, cut in in small cubes
4 tablespoons of sprinkles (grajea)
I was lucky enough to find already toasted bread chunks, but if you decide to toast your own, place separately under the broiler for 5 minutes or until browned. Remove from broiler and set aside.
Heat oven to 350° F (175° C)
Butter a 9″x13″ baking dish.
In a medium saucepan, mix water, piloncillo, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil, then simmer 5-10 minutes or until slightly thickened into a syrup. Strain to remove cinnamon sticks and cloves. Keep syrup warm.
In the buttered casserole dish, layer 1/3 of the bread chunks. Sprinkle with 1/3 nuts, cheese, pineapple and coconut. Drizzle about 1/4 or less of the syrup over this layer, letting it soak into the bread. Continue layering bread, nuts, pineapple, coconut and cheese, sprinkling each with syrup and letting it soak. Finish with a layer of cheese. Pour the rest of the syrup over the whole dish.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top layer of cheese is bubbling and browned. Serve warm. Garnish with colorful sprinkles.
|Fun fact: “Capirotada” comes from the word for a friar’s hat