Capidotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)
2 cups water
3 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks
2 cups white sugar
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
1 (1 pound) loaf French bread
cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
1 small onion
6 ounces sliced mild Cheddar cheese
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 2 quart casserole dish.
Combine the water, cinnamon sticks, and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the cinnamon turns the water dark brown, about 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and reserve the water.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Fry the slices of French bread in oil until light brown, turning if necessary, about 1 minute per side. Remove toasted bread from the oil and place on paper towels to drain.
Arrange half of the toasted bread in a single layer in the greased casserole dish. Sprinkle bread with half of the raisins, pecans, and onion. Arrange a layer of Cheddar cheese on top. Repeat with another layer of bread, raisins, pecans, onions, and cheese.
Slowly pour the reserved cinnamon water over the casserole, allowing the bread to absorb as much of the liquid as possible. Do not allow the dish to overflow.
Cover dish with aluminum foil and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until lightly browned and puffed, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
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