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From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa has been awarded the honor of "WINNER" in the "Cookbooks: International" category of the 2014 International Book Awards!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Adriana Aguirre Ozuna

Adriana is the one without the hat!

Serves at least 20

This recipe comes from one of my dearest friends, Adriana.  We are like sisters and introduce each other as such.  She has been by my side through much that life has given me for the past 10+ years, good and bad. 

Adriana always makes this the day before Easter, and serves it cool, spooning out portions instead of slicing.  I always make it a few days ahead so we can munch on it most of the week.  I can be heated and served warm also. Any remaining capirotada can either be refrigerated for a few days or frozen. The recipe can be cut in half if you don’t need such a big portion, but since you are going to the trouble to make it, why not just freeze the leftovers?

Let's get started:

Begin by assembling all the ingredients on your work surface.  You will have 4 layers so if you need, divide your ingredients into 4 piles each, with the exception of the sauce ingredients.

These are your ingredients:


4 small packages Bimbo brand toasted white bread (14 slices in each package)
7 Tablespoons salted butter, melted

4 bananas, peeled and sliced crosswise into thin slices

4 apples, any variety, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
280 grams (10 oz) raisins
250 grams (9 oz) dried cranberries
400 grams (14 oz) pitted prunes, cut in half
250 grams (9 oz) pecans, whole or broken into large pieces
250 grams (9 oz) Cotija cheese, finely shredded or crumbled**

4 cones piloncillo (approx. 200+ grams/7+ oz each) *
1 stick cinnamon
10 whole cloves
2 liters (8.5 cups) of water

First of all, quit laughing.  The first ingredient, Bimbo (
pronounced Beem bow) brand toasted bread is making you snicker – I can hear you!  Bimbo is the largest bread maker in the United States and has outlets all over the world. The toasted bread is purchased already toasted, a big time saver.  It is delicious, crunchy and very addictive.  Have you composed yourself enough to continue?  If for some reason you cannot buy this pre-toasted bread in your area, any white bread, thinly sliced and toasted to a golden brown (not dark) will work.  There are 14 slices to a package so you will need to toast 56 pieces of bread. (Note: I use homemade whole wheat bread in mine). 

Any pan at least 10 cm / 4 inches deep and having at least an 8 liter / 8 quart capacity will work.  The pan we used (we both own one) is a small, 8 liter / 8 quart roasting pan about  10 cm / 4 inches deep with a lid.  (In the photo you can see how high the layers reach.)   Aluminum foil can be used as a lid if your pan does not have one. 

Begin by combining your sauce ingredients in a covered pan and simmer until all the piloncillo is dissolved.  Do not try to break it up in your blender, it is hard like a rock and will damage or ruin your blender.  Yes, Tom, even your beloved Vitamix will be damaged. 

Preheat your oven to 175°C / 350°F.

Brush melted butter on one side of 14 slices of toasted bread.  Place them in the bottom of the pan overlapping if necessary to fit them all in.  It’s ok to break them a bit if you have a corner to fill in. 

On top of the bread, sprinkle a thin layer, see photo, of banana, apple, raisins, dried cranberries, prunes, pecans and cheese.  Repeat for 4 layers, ending with cheese. 

Ladle the piloncillo syrup over all the bread and goodies, using all of the liquid.  Discard the cinnamon stick and whole cloves.  Cover the pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Check it after 45 minutes to see if the cheese is melted the top should be slightly browned.  Remove from the oven, do not replace the cover, and let it cool. 

* Each cone of piloncillo is a little different weight, they never weigh exactly the same.

** Cotija cheese – (co-tee-ha) – a white, salty, hard, aged
  cows milk cheese, often sold already crumbled.  It softens when heated but is not considered a melting type cheese.   I have heard it called “Mexican Parmesan”, but other than being salty, it has no resemblance or flavor similar to Parmesan.  If you cannot purchase Cotija cheese, you can substitute a good quality Panela – a salty fresh cheese.  The flavors are similar but the texture is not, but it is an acceptable substitution. 

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