How did capirotada become the perfect Mexican dessert for Lent?

Capirotada is a dessert defined as the most traditional dish of Mexican cuisine during the Lent season.

Many Hispanics have memories of their grandmother or mother making this dessert, which is usually eaten between Ash Wednesday and Easter.

It is a bread pudding soaked in a sweet liquid that can be made with milk or water, flavored with sugar or other ingredients such as piloncillo and cinnamon, and then baked with nuts, peanuts, raisins, and cheese.

Birotes, teleras, semitas: Dallas bakeries adding more traditional Mexican breads

Pilar Zazueta, a historian at the University of Texas at Austin, said it was a dessert influenced by Arab and Spanish culture. Later Mexican elements were added and the Catholic church gave it a religious meaning.

“In this plate, the bread represents the body of Christ (like the bread in the Eucharist), the sweet honey the blood of Christ (like the wine in the Eucharist), the raisins and hazelnuts the nails of the cross, the cinnamon sticks. the wood of the cross and the cheese the shroud, ”said Zazueta.

Zazueta explained that in Spain, capirotada is not a dessert, but a pudding made with chicken, almonds and aromatic herbs. However, the dish had a cultural adaptation in Mexico during colonial times in the 16th and 17th centuries.

“Mexico has the climate to produce sugarcane, Spain does not,” said Zazueta. “In Mexico, sugar and piloncillo were cheaper, and so it was used in recipes.”

Capirotada is served hot or cold, depending on the consumer, and may be accompanied by coffee, milk or hot chocolate.

610 Jefferson Blvd. in Dallas, both located in Dallas. El Ranchito or 7515 E. Grand Ave. You can buy capirotadas on Fridays during Lent at most Mexican restaurants that serve Lent food, such as Mexico Lindo.


5 bread rolls (birotes or teleras) cut into thick slices (about 1 inch wide)

4 cups water or milk

2 cups piloncillo or brown sugar

2 sticks of cinnamon

3 whole cloves

Nuts, raisins and/or unsalted peanuts

Fresh cheese or cotija cheese

Sweet colorful sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Toast the bread on both sides. You can use lard or butter or fry the bread without oil. Set it aside.

Heat the water or milk and add the piloncillo or brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves. After boiling for 7-10 minutes, remove from the stove.

Place a layer of bread on a baking sheet, wash with some sweet liquid and add raisins, nuts and/or peanuts and cheese to taste. Another layer of bread is added, followed by another layer of other ingredients, and so on.

Finally, the remaining liquid is poured over the bread.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the liquid is gone and the consistency of bread pudding.

It can be served hot or cold. Finally, you can add colorful sprinkles to decorate.

Source: Alejandrino Fernandez, head chef of El Ranchito Restaurant in Oak Cliff