When the Spaniards and French introduced pastries and puddings to Mexican cooks, they also brought with them many spices like cinnamon. Old-fashioned cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon is the most preferred with its true complex yet less sweet flavor from that of the common Cassia bark that is sold in the states. Mexican bread pudding is very different than the ones I grew up eating and containing pecans with a bourbon sauce. Served with Mexican cheese and creamy crema or crème fraiche, this pudding contains apples, almonds and plantains and like the ones I grew up eating, this one is ever so delicious and really easy to make.
Mexican Bread Pudding
2 cups torn firm texture bread (French will do)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 inch stick of cinnamon
2 whole cloves
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 ripe medium plantain (or a large firm banana), sliced
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
1/2 cup shredded asadero, Chihuahua or Monterey jack cheese
Crema Mexicana, crème fraiche or dairy sour cream
Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Dry the torn bread on a baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes or until dried.
Make a syrup in a small saucepan with the water, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until reduced to 3/4 cup. Strain and discard spices.
Toss the bread with the syrup and fold in the apples, plantain, raisins and almonds. Place in a 2 quart baking dish and bake covered for 35 to 40 minutes or until apples are tender.
Serve warm with a sprinkle of the cheese and with the crema.