This is blasphemous, but I did not like capirotada growing up. I think because of the ingredients my family used—sandwich bread and American cheese! (By the way, I have told them this so I am not going to shock or offend anyone in my family if they are reading this.) The thing is, though, I love all other kinds of bread pudding, so I decided to give capirotada another chance and make a version of it that I like and want to eat.
One of the types I did not know existed until recently is capirotada de leche or blanca. Instead of a piloncillo or dark brown sugar, a milky syrup similar to the one in a tres leches cake is used to bind the pudding. And the day that I went to the mercado to buy the dried fruit and nuts traditional to capirotada, I saw the most beautiful and fragrant dried peaches. The idea of a peaches and cream à la tres leches kind of blew my mind, so I decided I had to make it. And sure enough, I found a version of capirotada that I love. And lucky for me, I had a lot of friends who were were willing to help me finish all of the test batches I had to make! —Rick Martinez
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Serves 8
1-2 lbs. picón, concha, bolillo, hoagie rolls, or brioche, cut into ¾" thick slices (about 15 cups)
chiles de árbol
3-inch sticks canela or cinnamon
whole black peppercorns
(1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal or ½ teaspoon Morton) kosher salt
wide strips orange zest
large egg yolks
whole large egg
(two 14-oz. cans) sweetened condensed milk
(two 12-oz. cans) evaporated milk
unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
mixed raisins, divided
1 1/3 cups
mixed nuts (such as peanuts, pecans, sliced almonds, or walnuts), toasted, chopped, divided
2 1/2 cups
mixed dried fruit (such as peaches, pears, apples, mango, pineapple, or apricots), cut into ½” pieces, divided
(8.8 oz.) queso fresco, panela, or cotija, finely grated or crumbled, divided
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Divide picón evenly between 2 large rimmed baking sheets and bake, tossing occasionally, until dried out and lightly browned around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of water with the chiles de árbol, canela, allspice, peppercorn, cloves, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add orange zest, and let cool. Strain spiced liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring glass; discard spices.
- Lightly grease a 3-qt. or 9x132" baking dish. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk whole eggs and yolks until pale yellow. Add condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, and spiced liquid and whisk until completely combined.
- Working with a few pieces at a time, dip slices of bread into the egg mixture until completely coated, about 5 seconds; tap to allow excess to drip off and arrange in an even layer in the prepared pan (you’ll use about half of the bread for this first layer). Evenly sprinkle half each of the raisins, nuts, dried fruit, and cheese over top. Repeat the layering with the remaining bread and egg mixture and top with remaining raisins, nuts, and fruit. Reserve cheese for serving.
- Pour remaining egg mixture evenly over top then drizzle butter over that. Cover tightly with foil and bake until capirotada is puffed and slightly golden and small bubbles appear around sides, 40 to 45 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 325°F and remove foil. Continue to bake until top is lightly browned, 10 to 20 minutes longer. Sprinkle cheese over hot capirotada and let sit until cheese has melted; serve warm.