Going Nuts and Bananas for Capirotada

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Going Nuts and Bananas for Capirotada

Sliced bread brushed with melted butter, toasted until golden, layered with handfuls of nuts and dried fruits, drenched in Piloncillo syrup, topped with crumbled salty cheese and baked until it all comes together…. Once out of the oven, it tastes like a cross between French Toast and Bread Pudding. Crisp-on-the-top and moist-in-the-center, every spoonful a delightful mess.

That is Mexico’s most well known version of Capirotada. Being a lover of delicious Mexican style food messes, I am one big fan of it. But some newcomers to the dish are taken aback by the salty cheese on top. What -you may ask like many do- is the need for the cheese on top? Well, that salty tease makes the thick feel and sweet taste of the dish come out in bold strokes in your mouth.

It reminds me of how my father loves to slice sweet bananas over his savory lentil soup; or how my family goes crazy over piling ates (fruit pastes) with Manchego cheese, as so many Mexicans do; or how I used to love eating a handful of chocolate covered raisins right after a handful salty pop corn, and then repeat it again and again at the movies growing up, as long as the movie lasted. Capirotada has that same wild mix.

Once you finish your piece, I bet you will beg for a bit more of that addicting combination. That’s probably why I have received so many requests for a recipe.

That is also why, although Capirotada is traditionally made for Lent and we are no way near Easter, I’ve had such a big craving for it in this cold weather. No. I am not waiting until Spring. And I am making it again this Thanksgiving to share with friends.

As it is baked casserole style and it has such a sweet warmness to it, it is perfect for the holidays and for making ahead and just popping in the oven.
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There are, as all popular dishes, many versions of Capirotada.

All Capirotadas call for sliced and toasted bread. Some versions fry the bread in oil or lard to make it crisp and some brush it with melted butter and bake it. I go for the baked.

Also, some versions call for a crusty bread, like a baguette, bolillo or telera, while others call for Pan de Huevo, an egg and yeast based bread similar to the brioche or challah. Again, I go for the later….

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Aside from which kind of bread and how to make it crisp, there seem to be two main camps where Capirotada has fallen in the last couple centuries. The Capirotada de Agua (water based) and the Capirotada de Leche (milk based). De Agua is baked in a piloncillo syrup while De Leche goes in a custardy style sauce, with sweetened milk and yolks. Yet, the most traditional is the Agua.

Yet the most common, and the one I’ve been asked for the most is De Agua. The syrup tends to have the rich tasting piloncillo, true cinnamon and many times whole cloves.

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There are many variations as to the additions. Most versions call for peanuts and raisins. So if you are looking for the most traditional Capirotada, no need to add anything else. But there are many versions that add other kinds of nuts, fresh fruits like oranges, bananas, plantains, guavas, and grapes and dried fruits like candied figs and acitrón (the oldest recipes I researched about from a couple centuries ago even call for cooked onions, tomatoes and ground meat…)

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After trying one too many versions, what I like to combine the most, are pecans and prunes. And I can’t resist adding a full blown layer of bananas, like many cooks in Central Mexico. I am very fond of these three ingredients, and they seem to mingle so happily together, especially tugged between pieces of buttered and toasted slices of bread drenched in syrup…
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After the first layer of bread, in go the bananas, prunes, pecans and a bath of syrup.
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Then goes another layer of the bread…. with the rest of the syrup poured on top.

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As for the question of the cheese…. De Leche camp of the Capirotadas don’t have cheese, while De Agua ones do.

And again…there are many options. While in Michoacán, they tend to sprinkle a dried and crumbly Cotija Cheese or a Queso Fresco, in other regions they use melty stronger cheeses like a Mexican Manchego. So you could go for a Cheddar, a Monterey Jack or a Muenster. You have the chance to play with your taste buds. But as funny as it may sound if it is the first time you try it, don’t skip the cheese…

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Capirotada is filling, satisfying and sweet. And that cheese…. really does it’s thing…
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Capirotada with Bananas, Pecans and Prunes
Print Recipe
10 servings Capirotada con Plátano, Nuez y Ciruela Pasa
Ingredients
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 pound piloncillo grated, or about 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 ceylon or true cinammon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 loaf challah or brioche bread preferably a couple days old, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted for brushing bread, plus more for greasing the casserole
  • 2 ripe bananas peeled and sliced
  • 2/3 cup pitted prunes chopped
  • 1 cup pecans roughly chopped and toasted
  • 4 ounces or about 1 cup, crumbled queso fresco, añejo or cotija
  • ground cinnamon optional, to sprinkle on top
To Prepare
  • In a medium sauce pan, pour the water and set it over medium high heat. Once it comes to a simmer, add the grated piloncillo, cinnamon and cloves, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 25 minutes, until it has all dissolved and has a light syrup consistency. Turn off the heat and remove the cinnamon and cloves.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the bread slices with unsalted butter. Place in a baking sheet and into the oven. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.
  • Butter a 9x13 casserole. Place a layer of bread in the bottom covering the entire surface. Cover with the banana slices, prunes and pecans. Pour half the syrup on top. Add another layer of bread, pour the remaining syrup on top and sprinkle the crumbled cheese. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the syrup has been absorbed. Remove from the oven. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes for the Capirotada to settle and for the entire syrup to be soaked up, then serve. You can also serve it lukewarm or cold. It can also be reheated.
Ingredients
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 pound piloncillo grated, or about 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 ceylon or true cinammon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 loaf challah or brioche bread preferably a couple days old, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted for brushing bread, plus more for greasing the casserole
  • 2 ripe bananas peeled and sliced
  • 2/3 cup pitted prunes chopped
  • 1 cup pecans roughly chopped and toasted
  • 4 ounces or about 1 cup, crumbled queso fresco, añejo or cotija
  • ground cinnamon optional, to sprinkle on top
To Prepare
  • In a medium sauce pan, pour the water and set it over medium high heat. Once it comes to a simmer, add the grated piloncillo, cinnamon and cloves, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 25 minutes, until it has all dissolved and has a light syrup consistency. Turn off the heat and remove the cinnamon and cloves.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the bread slices with unsalted butter. Place in a baking sheet and into the oven. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.
  • Butter a 9x13 casserole. Place a layer of bread in the bottom covering the entire surface. Cover with the banana slices, prunes and pecans. Pour half the syrup on top. Add another layer of bread, pour the remaining syrup on top and sprinkle the crumbled cheese. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the syrup has been absorbed. Remove from the oven. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes for the Capirotada to settle and for the entire syrup to be soaked up, then serve. You can also serve it lukewarm or cold. It can also be reheated.
  • Irene Guerra-Vazquez

    Thank you for this rich version of capirotada. My grandmother was from a little mountain town in Sonora called, “Aconchi”. THat’s where they have the two versions of flour tortillas….the gorditas of which my mother taught me to make and, the large one made without the rolling pin. THere is an art to waving it and stretching it out….and cooking it on the large outdoor comals.
    ANyway, capirotada….my Nana taught my mom and my mom taught me. Both are gone now but I continue to make it each year as a tradition to remember them and to continue the cultural influences that I share with my family and friends.
    It is almost a lost art, or recipe. When I make a tray for home, I make one for work and the ‘old timers’ thank me and remember their mothers who used to make it when they were young.
    I use peanuts, bananas, mild cheddar cheese, and raisins in the piloncillo syrup with 3 whole cloves. The cloves came from my kids’ babysitter , who was from Aguascalientes. Sometimes, I have added shredded coconut.
    Thank you, Pati, for sharing this version. I love your show! My husband is from Puerto Rico and I am a “Chicana from BOyle Heights, California which today is referred to as East L.A. What perked my interest on one of your shows was when you made the empanadas with plantain bananas. That’s because in my husband’s culture they use the green ones for fritters called ‘tostones’ and the yellow maduros for soups, and desserts. I did not realize that Mexico uses them also. Then I realized that Mexico also has a Caribbean side and menu. My family loved them!
    THanks I love your enthusiams and excitement in sharing your recipes on your show!
    Irene

    • Pati Jinich

      Hola Irene, I’m so happy you use bananas in your capirotada too! I have made it with plantains before and it is also delicious. I love hearing stories and thank you so much for sharing yours! 🙂

  • Oh wow, that looks amazing! My husband loves anything that resembles bread pudding, so I think we’ll have to try this.

    • Pati Jinich

      I hope you and your husband enjoy the recipe Kari! 🙂

  • Made this today… Husband and kids LOVED it!

    • Pati Jinich

      So glad they all loved it Sandra! I wish I could get my kids to eat more capirotada!

  • Hi Patty, Thanks for sharing your secrets. I don’t get the TV station any more you were on because they moved in to a digital stations. Are you on you tube . . or Hulu? Happy Holidays, I miss you.

    • Pati Jinich

      Hola Eric, I have a few clips now on You Tube, but I am looking into more ways to make the whole episodes accessible. I will let you know once I figure this out! 🙂

  • Hi Pati, I also could not find your show on my guide.
    I googled you and now I am happy to know that you have this
    blog. My mother makes this Capirotada for Lent and Christmas.
    She makes a huge stockpot, she propably has 10 layers and it’s always been the agua with tomatoes,onions,cloves,piloncillo,and
    cinnamon. You know, my mother uses plantains instead of bananas, they hold their shape wonderfully. She learned it from her aunts and grandmother who were born in the early 1900’s in Michoacan.
    Anyway, I am thrilled to see this recipe and your blog, you have
    a new follower! P.S. Is there a cookbook in the works?

    • Pati Jinich

      Thank you for your comments Eli! I am so happy you are excited by this recipe. I like using plantains sometimes too, and it is also delicious. Yes, there is a cookbook on the way. The manuscript is finished and just waiting for a release date from the publishers. I will keep you updated! 🙂

  • Hola Pati,
    It is so wonderful to find this recipe here. I have fond memories of my mother making capirotada, and I have attempted it many times, but I have not been so successful. Thank you! I feel so grateful to find someone here online that is so committed and passionate to our Mexican customs and traditions. Thank you for sharing out nation’s treasures.

    • Pati Jinich

      Thank you for your lovely comments Ari! It is my pleasure to share my recipes. I am so happy that my blog can remind you of memories of your mother’s cooking and our Mexican culture. I hope you enjoy the capirotada! 🙂

  • Pati buenas dias como estas felicidades en tu exito.No mas quiero saber que es challah o brioche…Gracias.Lisa

    • Pati Jinich

      Hola Lisa,
      Pan Challah o Brioche, son dos tipos de panes, parecidos a los “Panes de Huevo o de Yema” que hay en México. Son panes suavecitos que están hechos a base de levadura y huevo. Pero puedes probar la receta con cualquier pan que a ti te guste!

  • These type of sweets make me think of my mother. She used to make this for us during cuaresma I think. It’s been so long since I’ve had some, and your version looks like the kind she used to make. I’ll have to try and make some for my dad. He loves sweets made with piloncillo. One of his favorites is camotes en piloncillo-in a big bowl so he can pour some cold milk on top them.

  • Que felicidad que ya casi sale tu libro Pati!! Ya hace tiempo que lo estoy esperando. Sere una de las primeras en comprar lo!!
    Gracias por compartir tu arte y tu energia y por llevar la cocina Mexicana en lo alto!!
    Bendiciones!

    • Pati Jinich

      Muchas gracias Carmen! 🙂

  • I love this!

    • Pati Jinich

      Gracias, Wilford!!!

  • THANK YOU!!! My Mom made her version during lent and Christmas and I will give your recipe a try. I ran across your TV show by accident, what a good accident!!

    Veronica Marrufo
    Houston, TX.

  • Maryelena

    Gracias,por ser tan authentica, me encanta todas tus recetas y tu blog. Maryelena

    • Pati

      Gracias, Maryelena!!

  • Maryelena

    Gracias por ser tan authentica maryelena.

  • Evelia Urquizo

    The original capirotada version I knew in Mexico city since I was a child was very lame and frankly just tasted like sugary mushy bread. This recipe brings brings the banana flavor and crunchiness of nuts. I am for Capirotada now!

    • Pati

      Thank you!!

  • Anita

    Another “I remember this” recipe! Of course I came to your site to find it.

    • Pati

      Thank you!!

  • Becca

    I tried this recipe. Overall flavour was good, but bananas turned grey and rubbery. Is this normal, or did I overcook it?

    • Pati

      Hmmm… wondering what may have happened. May have happened if they were too green…

      • Becca

        Ah- that is possible. They had just turned yellow, so they weren’t very ripe. I’ll try again with baking bananas. Thank you for getting back so quickly! I’m trying this as a surprise gift for friends with a new baby 🙂

  • You are wonderful, going to try some of your recipes or u can just come live with us lol looking for the rope cookie recipe pls.

  • Beatriz Gonzalez

    Hola Pati, this is very similar to the one my family makes, apart from adding bananas or plantains, we also add thinly sliced red apples….yum!

    • Pati

      Love it with apples!

  • Brian

    Love your book Pati! A pound of piloncillo seems like a lot of work to grate. Is there an easiest way to do it?

    • Pati

      Yes, Brian, it is hard work to grate! A much easier way for this recipe, since you are making a syrup, is to put the piloncillo in a pan with a little water. Set it over low heat and let it slowly melt down, occasionally breaking it up with a wooden spoon and stirring. Once it melts down, add the water, cinnamon and cloves and simmer as directed in the recipe to make your syrup for the capirotada.

  • RUBEN LIZARRAGA

    hello
    recently been watching your show. love the accent! my mom passed away many moons ago and all her traditional mexican dishes have gone with her. I remember her capirotada and how it tasted, I was always so close, but I think your recipe has the one ingredient I have been missing. Going to try and make it this friday for my dad and sisters…let you know how it comes out.

    • Pati

      Hola Ruben, So happy you are going to try my capirotada recipe for your family!! Yes, please let me know what you think of it…

  • RUBEN LIZARRAGA

    Buenos Dias Pati! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I left some capirotada at my Sister’s house so she could taste it – she texted me and wrote, “It smells like Mom’s…”,”…it looks like Mom’s…”,”…and it tastes like Mom’s!!!! It’s right on and delicious!”
    In my original recipe, I WAS MISSING THE CLOVES!. I will never lose this and will always be grateful!
    Thanks again, Love Always, Ruben

  • Rosa del Carmen

    My Grandmother who was from northern Jalisco, raised in Southern Zacatecas after the revolution, would make capirotada. The version from that area is a sweet and savory, as they make the caldillo with piloncillo but also caramalized onions and tomatillo ( the latter two are removed before pouring on bread)I don’t have her recipe written down , but my mom taught me how to do it. Brings back memories of celebrating Dias Santos in the small town of Momax, Zacatecas.

  • Minerva Preciado

    Hola Pati,
    Mi mamá era de un pueblo en Jalisco. La Capirotada que ella hacía era muy rica. También le ponía rodajas de plátano pero los salteaba en mantequilla. En cuanto al pan; usaba mitad bolillo y mitad picones. Freía una parte del pan y la otra la tostaba en el horno. También le ponía coco, nueces y ciruelas. ¿Cuál será el origen de esta versión?

    Me fascina tu programa, lo veo cada sabado. De hecho estuve en San Miguel de Allende inspirada por tus vacaciones. Eres una pionera en el campo culinario de la gastronomía mexicana. En buena hora y felicidades por tu éxito. Espero tu libro nuevo ansiosamente.

    Gracias,
    Minerva

  • E.S

    Hello, my grandmas recipe included tortillas coated in Manteca lining the bottom of the casuela or cazo. Then you would add the layers of old bolillo bathed in a syrup made out of piloncillo, cloves, chopped tomatoes, and chopped onions. Then you would top it with cheese, peanuts, raisins, sugar, colaciones ( small hard Mexican candies that resemble stars usually found around Xmas time ) keep adding layers of bolillo, syrup, cheese, peanuts, raisins, sugar, colasiones. Bake in the oven until toasted. This is how she made it. My grandma was from Zacatecas, Mexico. She was born in 1908. I follow her recipe except I omit the tortillas, the tomatoes and the onions. The colaciones candies are hard to find.

    • E.S

      I forgot to mention that cinnamon was also added to the syrup.

      • Pati

        Great tips!

  • allyson

    hi pati – thanks for the recipe. my friend is having an “easter around the world” menu this year, and i am going to make this for dessert. i’m not sure if our crowd will enjoy the prunes, so i may use raisins instead. anyway… i have a question for you. since i don’t want to be making a mess in the kitchen while guests are over, what is the best way to prepare this ahead and still serve it warm? can i layer it, cover and set aside (or refrigerate) until baking? or do i need to bake it right away and reheat it? it just never seems to get as warm that way, and i don’t want to dry it out by reheating. thanks in advance!

  • allyson

    i’m excited to try this for easter this year. question – can i prep everything, layer it in the baking dish and then let it sit until i’m ready to bake it? cover and refrigerate? or is it important to bake right away, in which case i’d have to reheat it and risk drying it out before serving… just trying to avoid a mess in the kitchen while company is over. thanks!

    • Pati

      Absolutely! You can prep, later and refrigerate. Just try to bring to room temperature before putting it in the oven.