Traditionally, capirotada is served during Lent and Easter time, and is made with the same ingredients every year…bread, cheese, prunes, and raisins. But let’s think about changing it up a bit this year, okay? Cherry Apricot Capirotada is a modern twist of a classic dessert.
Capirotada Recipes have Changed
In reality, capirotada has morphed quite a bit in its lifetime. Originally, it was a meat, potato and onion casserole that was made in Spain, but eventually it changed to a meatless casserole. The historical records that I have seen make the original version sound like shepherd’s pie, vastly different from the sweet dessert we enjoy today. My point is: don’t worry about changing the traditional recipe. It has already changed a lot over the years.
Even though capirotada is essentially a bread pudding, you will notice that it does not contain any eggs. I have seen other variations of capirotada that include coconut, peanuts, syrup, or canned peaches, but this is the version that I picked up from a friend many years ago. It is still my favorite way to make capirotada.
What Does Capirotada Mean?
The name capirotada is mysterious also. The word capirote is the name of a hooded cape that Capuchin monks would wear. The word for cappuccino comes from the same root as well. Perhaps the dish capirotada (and maybe cappuccino also) were made by the monks. Or, maybe the dish got its name because of its brown color, similar to the monks robes. Because capirotada is served during Lent, that might give us further clues to its religious affiliation.
Regardless of its history, capirotada remains a favorite Springtime treat. Of course, you can make it the traditional way by simply switching out the apricots for prunes, and the cherries for raisins. However, it is getting more difficult to convince the kids a prune dessert is delicious. If you include cranberries, dates, cherries, figs or blueberries, I believe everyone will stick around after the Easter egg hunt to share Cherry Apricot Capirotada with the family.
Sorry, it is not possible to make a small capirotada. This is a big recipe! But that just means you need to invite more family and friends over to enjoy the tradition!Print
Cherry Apricot Capirotada
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 70 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 18 servings
2 qt. water (2lt)
1 lb. piloncillo cones (500g – substitute firmly packed brown sugar)
2 pc. star anise
½ tsp. anise seeds (1g)
½ tsp. cloves (1 gr)
½ tsp. whole black pepper (1 gr)
2 sticks cinnamon
1.5 sticks butter (173g)
1 small bunch of green onions (about 6-8), chopped
1 lb. stale bread, broken into pieces (500g)
8 oz. cheese (250g) cut into ¼” cubes (.6cm)
4 oz. pecan halves (125g), roughly chopped
6 oz. dried pitted apricots (170g)
Pour the water into a 3 qt. (3lt) saucepan, and add the piloncillo, star anise, anise seeds, cloves pepper, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, and simmer until the piloncillo/brown sugar has completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a separate large sauté pan, melt half of the butter. Add the green onions, and sauté for a minute, until the onions soften. Add the pieces of stale bread and allow to toast and absorb the butter. You may have to do this in batches, adding the rest of the butter as needed. Remove the bread pieces to a large ovenproof pan. Heat the broiler of your oven.
Once all of the bread has been passed through the butter, pour any remaining butter over the bread, but discard the onion pieces. Briefly toast the bread under the heated broiler, about 3 minutes until it is golden brown. Remove the pan of toasted bread, and then set the oven to 350°F (176°C).
Line a 3 qt. (3lt.) baking dish with parchment, or spray with food spray. Place a layer of the toasted bread on the bottom, and then sprinkle over half of the cheese, pecans, apricots and dried cherries/berries. Top with another layer of toasted bread, and then continue layering, ending with a top layer of bread. Gently ladle over the sweet spiced tea. The baking dish should be quite full, but not overflowing. There is no need to cover the capirotada while it is baking, but you can do so if you like for a more tender crust.
Bake for one hour, until most of the sweet spiced tea is absorbed. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool briefly before serving.
Piloncillo is the traditional raw loaf sugar that is used throughout Latin America. If you can’t find it in your local market, simply substitute brown sugar.