Capirotada iterations abound. Feel free to omit or use a different type of nuts. Some recipes call for peanuts or walnuts instead of pecans. A little sweet and a little savory, this bread pudding makes a lovely brunch dish or dessert.
Note: Piloncillo is an unrefined cane sugar product that comes in blocks. Check the Latin foods aisle of your supermarket (it can often be found amongst the Goya products). If you can't find it, substitute 1 cup packed dark brown sugar and 1 tablespoon regular molasses.
- Yield:serves about 8
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:1 hour
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- 8 ounces piloncillo, coarsely chopped (see note)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces stale crusty bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1/4 cup sultana raisins
- 4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
- 1/2 cup whole pecans (optional)
Adjust oven to center position and preheat oven to 350°F. In a small saucepan combine boiling water, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, cloves and nutmeg. Stir until sugar dissolves. Boil mixture, stirring occasionally, until the syrup begins to slightly thicken and reduces to about 1 cup, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and remove cinnamon sticks and whole cloves then stir in vanilla extract.
Generously grease cast iron skillet or baking dish, set aside remaining butter. Add half of the bread to the pan, spreading it out to cover the bottom of the pan completely. Drizzle half of syrup over bread and stir to completely coat pieces.
Sprinkle half the raisins, half the apricots, and half the cheese over the bread in the pan. Add remaining bread. Melt remaining butter and pour over the top layer of bread then drizzle with remaining syrup and sprinkle with remaining raisins, apricots and cheese. Add pecans, if desired, then cover skillet with lid (if using a baking dish, cover with foil) and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top pieces are slightly crispy, another 10 minutes longer. Serve warm.