When my late father was alive, he used to make a delicious dessert called capirotada. I never realized the significance of it or its ties to the Lenten season until after he passed away.
While this traditional Mexican dish is served throughout Lent, it’s most appropriate to eat it on Good Friday, especially since it’s filling and there’s no meat involved. “Why is it perfect for Good Friday?” you may ask. Because each of the ingredients is symbolic of what we commemorate on Good Friday.
Capirotada reminds us of Christ’s suffering on the cross. The cloves used in the recipe reminds us of the nails used to crucify Christ and the cinnamon sticks represent the cross. The syrup is symbolic of the precious blood He shed for us and the melted cheese reminds us of the Holy Shroud used to cover his body when taken down from the cross.
Although there are many different recipes floating out on the internet, I found out that closely resembles the one my own father used.
Here is the recipe (taken from Mexican In My Kitchen with some modifications) that you can use to make capirotada for yourself and your family.
- 1 1/4 cup of piloncillo or dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cup of water
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 2 cloves
- 3 Tablespoons of melted butter
- 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 16 slices 1/3” thick of Bolillo (French bread) (The online recipe calls for stale bread older than 2 days but you can use bread that you can leave out to dry for a couple of hours.)
- 3/4 cup of Cotija Cheese
- 1/4 cup peanuts (roasted preferred)
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons of butter cut into small cubes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium-size pot place the piloncillo (found at any Mexican or Hispanic supermarket), cinnamon stick, cloves, and water. Place the pot on the stove and boil at a medium heat. (If you have a hard time cutting the piloncillo for the amount needed, place it in your microwave for intervals of 30 seconds until it is soft enough to cut. Be careful; it can be hot to touch.) This will create the syrup needed for the dish.
Melt the butter and then mix it with the oil. Cut the bread into flat pieces before placing them on a baking tray. Brush the melted butter-oil mix onto the pieces of bread. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Take the tray out and turn the pieces over to bake for 5 more minutes. The bread should have a deep golden color to it.
Take the tray out of the oven and let them cool for a minute. Take the bread from the baking tray and arrange a couple of pieces in a single row neatly in a round oven-safe tray or dish. You can either use a ladle, carefully pour the syrup over the bread until it is fully absorbed or dip the bread into the syrup to get an even, moist piece.
Add a layer of cheese, raisins, and peanuts (or any other fruit or nuts you prefer) over the bread until it’s covered.
Place a new row of bread on top of the first layer and repeat step 4.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you’ve either covered the entire dish or run out of ingredients, whichever comes first.
Pour the remaining syrup over the last layer of bread. Top it with the cheese, raisins, and peanuts. Additional: You may add a small amount of the butter-oil mix left on top of the layers
Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake in it your preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the top crust is golden.
Capirotada can be served warm or cold. Eat it with your family today in remembrance of why what we commemorate on Good Friday!