It’s been a minute since I sat down and had my first piece of capirotada, a tradition rumored to have originated from Renaissance-period Spain. Born out of a need to abstain from meat during the 40 days of Lent, this bread pudding offers itself as a sweet-yet-hearty comida de cuaresma, or Lenten food. Somehow the odd assortment of ingredients magically come together during the bake. The result is a taste bud experience you won’t soon forget, and fortunately for us, it’s the perfect time to make it.
2 loaves French bread
1 12 oz box of raisins
2 8 oz bags shredded mild cheddar cheese
1 stick salted butter
1 1/2 c brown sugar
Pecans to taste
For the anise tea
2 qt water
3/4 oz whole anise
3 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 medium white onion
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Slice your French bread loaves as if you’re slicing bread for sandwiches. Place slices on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes on one side (or until brown) and 6 minutes on the other.
- While your bread is toasting, boil your tea. NOTE: After your bread is finished toasting, turn your oven down to 350°F.
- Place the pot of water on the stove top. Add piloncillo, brown sugar, and the whole onion to the pot.
- Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and anise in a cheese cloth. Pinch the cloth at the corners, twist, and secure with a tieback to create a spice bundle.
- Heat pot on high until it comes to a boil. Cover pot and let tea simmer for 10 minutes.
- Now we’ll begin the layering process. Place your first layer of toasted bread slices in a large baking dish.
- Melt stick of butter and brush over the toasted bread.
- Sprinkle cheddar cheese, raisins, and pecans.
- Pour a portion of your tea over the layer until the bread becomes mushy in texture.
- Repeat steps 7 through 10 until your layers reach the top of the baking dish or your bread finishes.
- Place your baking dish in the oven, previously set at 350°F, for 30 minutes.