Sra. Rosa, who comes a few days a week to a friend’s home in puerto vallarta to cook, is well known for her capirotada, her recipe is unlike the more common ones in Mexico: rounds of bread fried crisp and soaked in a syrup with nuts and raisins or other regional elaborations. Hers is more like a bread pudding moistened with custard.
The bread Dona Rosa uses is called picon, a round raised semisweet egg/yeast bread about 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter. I suggest you substitute challah or even stale brioche. She also uses evaporated milk diluted with water, which I can’t stand, so I use whole milk and add some grated lime peel.
The ideal dish for this amount is an ovenproof one about 8½ inches (21.5 cm) in diameter and at least 3 inches (8 cm) deep. It is lined on the bottom and a little way up the sides with fried corn tortillas so that the custard does not seep down and stick to the base of the casserole.
- 7 cups (1.75 l) whole milk
- 2-inch (s-cm) cinnamon stick
- ½ cup (125 ml) sugar
- 1½ tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 6 5-inch (13-cm) corn tortillas
- 1 ripe plantain, about 1 pound (450 g)
- Approximately 16 small slices of dried bread (see note above) ½-inch (13 mm) thick
- 10 ounces (285 g) dried prunes, soaked until slightly softened and pits removed
- Heaped ½ cup (135 ml) roughly chopped pecans
- ½ cup (125 ml) raisins
Warm the milk with the cinnamon and sugar in a saucepan. Put the cornstarch into a small bowl, add a little of the warmed milk, and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add some more of the milk, stir well, and then return it to the pan. Mix the egg yolks-just to break them up, not beat them-add a little of the warmed milk, and quickly mix until smooth. Add more of the milk and then return it to the pan. Cook over low heat, stirring from time to time and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking, until the mixture begins to thicken slightly. Stir in the vanilla and set aside.
Heat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
Heat about 1/8 inch (3 mm) of oil in a skillet and fry the tortillas on both sides until they are leathery, not crisp. Add a little more oil as necessary. Blot them well and line the bottom of the mold (see note above). Peel the plantain and cut into slices. Fry the slices on both sides in the oil until golden brown, blot, and set aside.
Put a layer of the bread over the tortillas, sprinkle with a third of the drained prunes, nuts, and raisins, and add a third of the plantain. Remove the cinnamon stick from the custard.
Very slowly pour 1½ cups (375 ml) of the custard over the first layer, a little at a time, allowing the bread to absorb the liquid-if you pour it too fast, it will all just sink to the bottom of the dish. Repeat with a second layer and then finish off with the third layer of bread, etc., and the remaining milk.
Bake in the top of the oven until most of the liquid has been absorbed-about 40 minutes. Set aside for about 20 minutes before serving so that the remaining liquid is absorbed. Serve lukewarm with crème fraïche or whipped cream.