Yucatecan Dessert Recipe – Caballero Pobre Mexican Bread Pudding


Caballero Pobre or the ‘Poor Gentleman’ is a popular Yucatecan dessert that shows the multi-cultural influences that have shaped Yucatan. The use of french bread is a giveaway. This is not an indigenous recipe used for centuries, but a frugal and delicious way to use international ingredients that were introduced into the local culture.

A Cool Culinary Adventure While on Vacation – Or Not

Every culture has savory desserts that uses day old if not stale bread. I recently cooked this recipe as a dear friend of mine was in need of some comfort food and mentioned bread pudding. I of course had this recipe up my sleeve and could not resist giving it another try.It is a nice mix of french toast and bread pudding all thrown into one. How could you not love it!

My friend was anticipating a European bread pudding but was happy to try my Mexican version. The thought of a hot dessert on a hot day just seemed…wrong.

It is the cooking methods and serving choices used that makes each recipe culturally specific. Europeans serve their bread pudding hot, Mexicans serve this bread pudding dessert at room temperature or in some cases cold. It is rich, sticky and delicioso! Caballero Pobre can be found in local Yucatecan restaurants, like the one found in Playa del Carmen on 46th Street and 10th Avenue. I have to admit it is always fun trying to make a local dessert yourself. I always think it is a great idea to shop for ingredients while on vacation and dive into culinary adventures in your vacation home. Once you return home what better way to  share your travel experiences with friends through food and photos!

I love to play with this recipe by adding additional ingredients to either spice it up (think chocolate habanero ice cream or chili added directly into the pudding) or make use of in-season fruits. If you want to try something completely different, subsitute Xtabentún, a local Mayan liqueur made from anise and honey, instead of the Kahlua that is posted in this recipe below. Take a trip to the local market or grocery store to find Piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, and Xtabentún.

Mayan Bread Pudding Recipe – Caballero Pobre

What You Need

2 cups (500ml) milk
3 Tbs. (45g) sugar
2 tsp. (10ml) vanilla
3 small or 1 large loaf stale French bread, sliced into 3/4-inch (2cm) thick rounds
6 eggs
2 cups (500ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (250ml) water
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 cone piloncillo, chopped (Substitute: 1 cup brown sugar)
2 whole cloves
10 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup (50g) whole almonds, pecans, pepinos, or walnuts
1/4 cup (75ml) brandy, Kahlúa or Xtabentún

  • Combine milk, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Dip each slice of bread into the mixture, placing the bread in a sieve to drain.
  • Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites until fluffy, not stuff. Fold in well-beaten egg yolks being careful not to deflate the egg whites.
  • Heat oil in a fry pan until hot (not smoking hot, just hot) and dip each bread slice into the prepared egg white mixture and fry in the oil. Cook both sides until brown and then remove from the pan placing the cooked bread on paper towel to remove any excess oil. This is similar to making french toast!
  • For the sauce, combine sugar, piloncillo and spices in a small saucepan. Simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar and piloncillo are completely dissolved. Continue cooking on medium heat until the syrup coats a spoon. Remove from heat, remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves with a spoon or thongs and add liquor. If you wish to add nuts, raisins, dates, figs, or a bit of chili, add ingredients and continue cooking the sauce on medium heat until the sauce thickens.
  • To serve the dessert cold, place the bread and sauce in the fridge until you are ready to serve. If you wish to serve the dessert at room temperature, keep both cooked bread pieces and the sauce on your counter until you are ready to serve. To serve this dessert warm, preheat your oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Place cooked bread in a deep baking dish or in individual soufflé molds, pour sauce onto the bread and repeat this process twice so you end up with layers of sauce and bread, finishing off with a layer of sauce. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until syrup begins to boil. Remove from the oven and let the dessert sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Garnish with cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, ice cream or nuts. Be creative as this recipe is not written in stone.

Cook Authentically While On Vacation In Mexico

This is a cheap and cheerful dessert so try it out! Imagine yourself cooking in your vacation villa overlooking the sea. All ingredients can be found at the local grocery store.

Don’t want to cook while on vacation? Talk to Guest Services who would be happy to arrange an at home chef during your vacation.

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