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Secrets of the drowned cake: a traditional dish from Guadalajara

25 mayo, 2021

When someone announces that they are going to Guadalajara, the first assignment is almost always “bring me a drowned cake”. It is the best known dish and at the same time the most unknown of the second city in the country.

By: Roberto Morán

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What you should know about drowned cake

Few things cause a person from Guadalajara more discomfort than hearing someone say they don’t like these cakes because they can’t stand “soaked bread.” That is the first secret of the Guadalajara drowned cake.

It is made with a special bread, the birote, with a hard crust, and the sauce is put at the end. Bread does not soak to the point of becoming soggy. And only the very brave ask for a completely drowned cake.

Here are some secrets of the drowned cake and the tapatíos bread and later we will give you the recipe.


  • It is made with birote. The discussion even begins with how to write it, if with “v” or “b”. The most traditional prefer the “b”. To make this bread you have to prepare two different doughs.
  • One serves as a base (leg) and the other, to form a crust. It is easier to find in Guadalajara, although it has spread to several cities in western Mexico, from Tepic to Tijuana.
  • In Mexico City, the birote can be replaced by some artisan bread with a hard crust, European style, which in certain bakeries is sold as “rustic bread” or “peasant bread”.
  • In Guadalajara, lunch is called what is known in other parts as a cake. Tapatíos lunches are made with bolillo. The only cakes in that city are the drowned ones.
  • Yes, there are bobbins in Guadalajara. And there is also a great variety. The ones known as Fleyman stand out, finished in elongated tips and sold mainly in large baskets, in grocery stores and markets.
  • To find traditional bobbins in Guadalajara you have to go to the neighborhood bakeries. It is served with two sauces, one very spicy with chile de arbol and the other with tomato. Few would guess that ginger is added to the chili pepper. }

The cake is called drowned because before serving it is dipped in the chili sauce. It can be half drowned, which only submerges on one side, or full drowned, which submerges completely.

  • Only the initiated know that you have to “stop the trunk” to eat the really drowned cake. Otherwise, the lips will not take the pain because of the itchiness.
  • The drowned cake is a delicacy for the morning or 12 o’clock.
  • It is usually served with cold carnitas and tomato sauce on top.
  • In Guadalajara you don’t eat with gloves and you never, but never, let your bread get soggy. You have to have mastery to take the cake with the tips of your fingers and not get dirty with the sauce.
Guadalajara: cradle of the drowned cake

The cradle of the drowned cake is Guadalajara, where they proudly prepare this dish. Getty Images

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Servings: 4 to 6 cakes

For the hot sauce

  • 50 arbol chiles, preferably from Yahualica.
  • ½ liter of water
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 1-centimeter cube of peeled ginger, grated
  • 1 pinch of thyme
  • 4 cloves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • ¼ onion
  • Oregano (1 pinch)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Vinegar (1 dash)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame, toasted on a comal


  1. Boil half a liter of water. At the first boil, put the arbol chiles and turn off. Let them soak for about five minutes.
  2. Put a cup of the water in which the chiles were soaked in the blender. Add the chiles and the rest of the ingredients and blend until you have a homogeneous mixture. Add water if it is too thick.
  3. Strain and reserve in a glass container.

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 pinch of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 6 to 8 cloves
  • Salt to taste
  • Half an onion
  1. Boil the tomatoes, remove the skin and blend with the rest of the ingredients. Try to rectify the salt.

Assemble the cakes

  • Half a kilo of carnitas
  • Refried beans
  • Birote or rustic hard crust bread
  • Onion slices deflected with lemon or vinegar, a pinch of oregano and sea salt
  1. Assemble the cakes, spreading the beans on the buns and filling them with carnitas. Dip in the chili sauce and bathe with the tomato sauce. Garnish with deflected onions. You can put a little lemon juice on top of the cake. If you don’t eat pork, you can substitute with panela cheese.

This recipe is adapted from a treasure shared by a member of the Hernández Gómez family, from Zapopan, a municipality in the metropolitan area of ​​Guadalajara.

Now, to enjoy the drowned cake with great respect for the chili sauce.

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