For those observing Lent, this is a time to reflect, a time for penance and sacrifice, and the preparation for the Easter holiday.
The 40 days of Lent begin with Ash Wednesday and end in Easter celebration. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday many fast abstain from eating meat and only consume one full meal and smaller snacks to keep up strength throughout the day. Over the years, many modifications have been made, making the practice a bit more simple to follow.
During the Lent season, there are a variety of traditional, meatless recipes that are customarily served. Potato patties, lentils, tuna empanadas among others, take their place at the dinner table. There is in particular one dessert that epitomizes the season capirotada.
Capirotada is a delicious mexican bread pudding with a deeper meaning. Made with basic ingredients in the Hispanic household such as stale bread, melted cheese, piloncillo, dried fruit and nuts, each ingredient has a religious significance. The dish is a reminder of Christ’s suffering on Good Friday. The bread signifies the Body of Christ, the piloncillo is a reminder of the blood lost, the CLOVES represent the nails of the cross, the cinnamon sticks are a reminder of the wood of the cross and the melted cheese that binds it all together is a symbol for the Holy Shroud.
several slices of white bread or French rolls
½ cup butter, softened
4½ cups water
2 piloncillo cones (or Brown Sugar)
4-inch piece of stick cinnamon
3 whole cloves
Sliced bananas and or apples
1 cup coconut, shredded (optional)
1 cup peanuts (optional)
½ cup pecans, chopped or slivered almonds
1 can of pineapple chunks, drained (optional)
2-3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese (as needed)
1. Toast bread under the broiler for 5 minutes or until browned. Remove from broiler and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
3. Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.
4. In a medium saucepan, mix water, piloncillo, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil, then simmer 5-10 minutes or until slightly thickened syrup.
5. Strain to remove cinnamon sticks and cloves. Keep syrup warm.
6. In the buttered casserole dish, layer 1/3 of the bread chunks. Sprinkle with 1/3 cheese, pineapple and coconut.
7. Drizzle about ¼ or less of the syrup over this layer, letting it soak into the bread. Continue layering bread, pineapple, coconut and cheese, sprinkling each with syrup and letting it soak.
8. Finish with a layer of cheese. Pour the rest of the syrup over the whole dish.
9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30-40 minutes until the top layer of cheese is bubbling and browned. Serve warm. Garnish with colorful sprinkles if desired.