Capirotada, Bread Pudding Takes a Twist–with Garlic And Cumin!

Capirotada, Bread Pudding Takes a Twist–with Garlic And Cumin!
César Martinez grinds spices in his molcajete for the syrup that flavors his family’s special version of Capirotada.

Capirotada bread pudding is a delicious, beloved Texas Mexican traditional dish. But cumin and garlic? They were never part of any capirotada bread pudding recipe I had ever tasted. Certainly cilantro, pecans, piloncillo, cheese.  So I really perked up when Laredo-born artist, César Mártinez, told me about it, that it was his family’s recipe. He knew it was not a common version but assured me it was delicious.

César cooked it for me at his home and art studio in San Antonio. The recipe hales from the state of Nuevo Leon and more specifically César’s mother, Adela G. Martinez, who learned it from her mother, Cruz Garza. The addition of garlic and cumin is an unusual and delicious combination of sweet and savory.

Recipe is from the book, “Don’t Count The Tortillas: The Art of Texas Mexican Cooking”

Capirotada con Ajo y Comino
Bread Pudding with Garlic and Cumin

Ingredients (serves 8)

For the Syrup
1 cup piloncillo (Mexican unrefined brown cane sugar, usually sold as tightly packed cones)
5 cups water
3 tablespoons anise seeds
1 tablespoon allspice
3- to 4-inch stick of Mexican canela, cinnamon

For the Bread Pudding
1 French baguette, sliced crosswise into 1⁄2-inch slices
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (I used white, yellow is fine)
1⁄2 teaspoon minced garlic
1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro
1⁄4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 green onion, both white and green parts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup currants
1 cup pecan bits (you can substitute pine nuts)
1⁄4 cup black sesame seeds
1⁄4 cup white sesame seeds


1. Preheat oven to 350 ̊F.

To Make the Syrup

2. In a saucepan, add the water, piloncillo, anise seed, allspice, and canela and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and set aside.

3. In a molcajete or spice grinder, add cumin, garlic, onion and 3 tablespoons of the cilantro. Grind into a paste.

4. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the spice mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Add the spice mixture to the syrup and stir to combine.

To Make the Bread Pudding

5. In a large casserole dish, ladle enough syrup to reach 1⁄4 inch; then arrange baguette slices to form a snug layer. Spread 1/3 of the cheese, currants, pecans, and sesame seeds. Ladle some more syrup to soak the bread. Repeat these layers, ending with a top layer of cheese, raisins, pecans, and sesame seeds.

6. Cover the casserole tightly and bake for 30 to 45 minutes until it is bubbling and the bread puffs up and pushes against the lid.

César recommends that you serve it with a dry sherry, as he did with me when we shared and enjoyed it at his home.

Artist César Martínez Capirotada with garlic and cumin.


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2 thoughts on “Capirotada, Bread Pudding Takes a Twist–with Garlic And Cumin!”

  • I think the differences between Mexican cuisine and Chicano cuisine as you call it, it’s due to the fact that Mexicans and Chicanos are different people, they are culturally different, but most of all have different idiosyncrasies. They are as different as a Mexican and a Salvadorean; or a Mexican and a Colombian.

  • There were different types Capirotadas in Mexican cuisine. I don’t know about Tejano cuisine. The four most common capirotadas in Mexican cuisine were: Corriente; de puerco or a la francesa; de menudo; and dulce. Capirotada de puerco had not only pork meat and ham, but also cordero, or mutton as you Americans call it. Capirotada dulce, also known as “de Vigilia” or lent, was sweet and savory, it had onions, garlic, tomatoes, cloves and other spices, and it was never a dessert, like you Americans call it, it was the actual dish. Of course this only applies to Mexican cuisine and history, I don’t know about chicano and tejano cuisine.

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