Almost every pueblo in New Mexico has its own version of bread pudding, and it is a common feast day dessert, the designated day of each pueblo’s patron saint given to them by the Spanish. All bread puddings are delicious, but each varies slightly. Note that the hot water added to the melted sugar causes the sugar to crystallize, but the sugar dissolves with heating.
Soak raisins 20 minutes in warm water to cover, and drain.
Preheat oven to 300F. Spray 5×9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking oil, and set aside until ready to use.
Cover bottom of loaf pan with 2 cups cubed bread. Sprinkle half raisins and half walnuts over bread. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon over raisins and walnuts. Cover with 1 cup grated cheese. Add remaining 2 cups bread, and pat down so layers are firm. Make next layer, using remaining raisins, nuts, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add remaining 1 cup grated cheese, and spread evenly over top.
Heat sugar in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar has melted, about 10 minutes. Add hot water slowly to prevent splashing, and let sugar syrup dissolve.
Add butter, and stir constantly until melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour over layers, making sure sugar syrup saturates bottom.
Bake loaf 35 to 40 minutes, or until cheese browns and sugar syrup bubbles. Remove from oven, place on wire rack and cool. Cut into 11/2-inch-thick slices, and serve with Prickly Pear Syrup, Peach Honey, or any fruit syrup or sauce.