A few months back I purchased some sprouted corn flour to make corn tortillas with. I was intrigued that it was sprouted and I frankly didn’t think I had time to soak dried corn kernels and make my own masa harina, the flour traditionally used to make corn tortillas. I figured it would be ‘similar’ enough. When it arrived I realized my mistake…this was not at all like masa harina and I would not be able to make traditional corn tortillas. I now had a 5-pound bag of sprouted corn flour and I had no idea what to do with it. So of course I threw it in the freezer and forgot about it. #fail
We used to be able to buy the most amazing non-GMO corn tortillas at our farmers’ market but last month the owner moved and took his operation with him. We have been eating grocery store hard corn tortillas since and none of us like them. I decided I must try to make them myself. But how? I remembered I had the sprouted corn flour squirreled away in my freezer and figured it was worth an experiment.
I mixed the corn flour with some water per some instructions I found online to make regular masa harina corn tortillas. The dough was sitting on my counter when my housekeeper walked in and saw what I was trying to do. She helps me in the kitchen every week (yes – I do outsource sometimes!) and she was ready to dive in as she makes tortillas all the time.
As she started working the dough, she got very excited about something and started speaking very quickly. I am from El Paso and I speak Spanish pretty well but I wasn’t following her at first. She said this smelled of something she used to make when she lived in Mexico. I wasn’t sure how to explain to her what kind of flour it was but she knew right away by the smell of the dough. She said it smelled like ‘elote’ which is ‘fresh corn’ in Spanish.
This is not surprising. Sprouted corn flour is exactly that – fresh corn. The fresh corn is sprouted and then dried and ground up into a flour. This is very different from masa harina which is made from dried corn kernels which are soaked in lime water.
We started talking about all the various ways corn is traditionally prepared in Mexico and apparently what I was trying to make with this ‘fresh corn’ flour was not that unusual after all! She called it a ‘toquere.’ Think of these as sweet corn tortillas. They taste totally different than regular corn tortillas in a good way!
I was really glad she was there to help me because it takes practice to make a good tortilla. She is a seasoned veteran. I love working with others in the kitchen so we had a fun time making a whole batch together. She even taught me two important tricks of the trade:
- A plastic shopping bag is the best way to press out the dough in a tortilla press. I balked at this and tried to use wax paper or even parchment paper. They totally didn’t work. She said everyone in Mexico uses a plastic bag. I am not talking about a Ziploc bag either – I am talking about a thin plastic shopping bag! Who knew? I know many of you don’t want plastic touching your food but in this case I have to say – using a plastic shopping bag is traditional! Sorry to burst your crunchy mama bubble! Think of this as a way to ‘up-cycle’ those ugly plastic shopping bags. She cut out two nice rounds and washed it and now I can reuse then again and again!
- After you finish cooking each tortilla, wrap them in a towel. This will help to steam them and keep them pliable.
Homemade Corn Tortillas (with Sprouted Corn)
This recipe makes about 12-16 corn tortillas, depending on how big or small you want them. I tend to like them smaller.
- 3 cups sprouted corn flour (where to buy)
- 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups filtered water (you will not be adding all of the water at once)
Put the sprouted corn flour in a bowl. Slowly add the water, about 1/4 cup at a time. Mix the dough with your hands until it comes together and is pliable. It should not stick to your hands but shouldn’t be dry either. You will end up using 1 1/4 cups of water – maybe more. Roll the dough into 12 balls.
Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat.
Cut two circles cut from a clean thin plastic shopping bag (I know – the horror!). Place one of your dough balls between the two sheets on your tortilla press. I highly recommend getting a tortilla press but you can use a rolling pin as well to roll them out.
Remove the raw tortilla carefully from the plastic sheets as pictured above.
Cook the tortilla for about 30 seconds and then use your fingers or a silicone spatula to flip the tortilla. Cook the tortilla for another minute or so, adding a tad more ghee. Do not use metal tongs or a metal spatula to flip the tortillas or they will break. My silicone spatula worked well and did not cause breakage and saved me from burned fingers!
When the tortilla is nice and brown as pictured below, remove and wrap in a dish towel or cloth napkin.
Continue making the tortillas this way until you have made them all. You can keep them wrapped up in the towel for a few hours.
If you want to freeze them, allow them to cool down and then place in the freezer. You can heat them up quickly in a hot cast iron pan with a little ghee. I plan to make these in huge batches going forward and freeze.
These are excellent for tacos or just warmed up with a little butter (tastes like a flat piece of cornbread heaven) as a snack.