Traditional capirotada is one of those desserts that made you excited for meatless Fridays growing up in a Catholic family. Many households have their own recipe, some with bananas, others with nuts. The capirotada comes in many forms, in so many variations, but where exactly does it come from?
Rewind the clock to early medieval Spain. Moorish influence in Spain, mixed with medieval Catholicism, gave birth to the first capirotadas (named such for the “capirotes” or “caps” worn in religious context in Spain). They were originally savory, dry soup dishes intended to make use of stale bread.
As Catholic influence became more prevalent, the ingredients became more symbolic. The bread of the capirotada representing the body of Christ, the syrup representing the blood, the cloves and cinnamon representing the nails and wood of the cross.
The dish made its way to Mexico and with indigenous influences, became a sweeter and more varied dessert (like this traditional recipe). The stale Spanish bread became Mexican bolillos, mulled syrup was made from piloncillo, and a variety of local fruits would be added. Some recipes would later incorporate local meats or cheeses, while others remained meatless for the purpose of Lent.
Of course nowadays, there's much more flavor and many more varieties than its humble origins. What better way to kick off Lent and your meatless Fridays, than with a bit of a celebration in the form of our new Capirotada Bread Cake? (Major Pro-tip: serve the cake at room temperature for the best, most delicious results!)