Ranfañote can be seen as a crunchy bread pudding, or a sweet and crusty stuffing; you could also think of it like a sweet, vegetable-less panzanella, in that it is composed of a mixture of dried bread. (Note: Food52-ers noted that while they had no idea what the dish was at first, they considered it an addictive, sweet-savory snack mix.) It is a dish of Afro-Peruvian origin (though that's contested), and it almost faded into obscurity, but has made a comeback in Lima. A hint of booziness and wintry spices make it perfect for chilly weather.
Note: Any salty, strong, cheese that is firm or crumbly will work in this recipe. Avoid using cheeses with too much moisture, like feta.
ciabatta loaf, cut into roughly 1/2-inch cubes
unsalted butter, melted
dark brown sugar
1-inch piece cinnamon
star anise pod
Zest and juice of 1 orange
red apple, quartered
toasted whole almonds, chopped
toasted walnuts, chopped
firm salty cheese, such as cojita or asiago, diced or crumbled (see note)
In This Recipe
Preheat oven to 300° F. Place the raisins and brandy, rum, or vodka in a bowl. Cover and set aside to macerate until ready to use.
Toss the bread cubes with the butter. Spread evenly on a parchment paper-lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. Toss and rearrange the bread cubes and bake again for another 10 minutes, tasting to check for crunchiness. When done, bread should be very crunchy, like croutons. Turn off the oven and keep the bread in there until ready to use.
Meanwhile, add the brown sugar and water to a medium saucepan. Heat over high heat until fully dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium and add cinnamon, star anise, cloves, orange peel, orange juice, quartered apple, and port. Simmer until syrup is thick and sticky, about 15 minutes. It should coat the back of a spoon and be very sticky when dripped on a cold plate and cooled. Strain the syrup and add it back to the saucepan. Keep warm over very low heat.
Remove bread from oven and dump into a large bowl. Add the syrup and toss evenly coat the bread cubes.
Drain the raisins from the liquor, squeezing out any excess moisture. Add to the bread cubes. Add the chopped nuts and gently toss everything together.
Arrange the ranfañote on a serving platter and coat it with the syrup for 20 minutes, or until the bread has softened slightly and is ready to serve. The bread is still supposed to be crunchy, although you should let the syrup slightly soften exterior so it is not so rough when you take a bite.
Immediately before serving, sprinkle the ranfañote with cheese. Serve in bowls or small plates, or keep in a large bowl for people to snack on.
I was born in Peru to a Limeño father and a Texan mother. We moved to Miami when I was five, and I grew up in the "Kendall-suyo" neighborhood—often called the 5th province of the Inca Empire because of its large Peruvian population. I've been writing about food since I was 11 years old, and in 2016 I received a master's degree in Gastronomy from Boston University. A travel columnist at Food52, I'm currently based in Hollywood, Florida—another vibrant Peruvian community—where I am a writer, culinary tour guide, and consultant.