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.
Add a tiny bit of ghee or coconut oil to your hot cast iron skillet. Immediately lay the tortilla into the pan. This is not easy. I botched a few before I got it. Be careful not to burn your hand!
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.
This recipe sounds easy! I see that it can be tricky with breakage, but there are only a few steps. I will definitely be trying this soon! I’ll let you know how it turns out. 🙂
Lindsey G. says
I am glad you are going to try it! They are truly delicious!
Becky Webb says
Seriously, this sounds too easy to be true. Yum!
Those look so good! I love homemade tortillas… I will have to try your recipe.
You are the best! Thanks for sharing this!!!
Thank you for this post! I was wondering if there was a better alternative to Maseca which is what we usually use.
I also wanted to add that you don’t NEED a tortilla press, I use a small glass cutting board and it works very well.
Natalie, how do you use your glass cutting board; as a press on the tortilla ball to flatten, or putting the ball on top and using a rolling pin?
It is true that it isn’t necessary, but the three ways that most of my family (I’m Mexican) made tortillas was either by hand (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JbZuAS_h_k), with the press or on a flat surface, similar to the way some people flattens pizza dough. Chopping blocks weren’t an option, as ours was the table we used for eating. Flattening the tortilla can be made in many ways and that is the beauty of cooking, as new generations try to find their way to cook in a more familiar manner.
Also, don’t use Maseca. It haven’t been proven yet, but it is very likely made with GMO corn. I get my corn and masa harina from Gold Mine (http://shop.goldminenaturalfoods.com/Other-Grains-Products/products/13/). The harinas are great, but the corn, properly nixtamalized, is AMAZING. Give it a try.
Lindsey, another wonderful guide! Thank you for creating it. I have a question: where did you get the sprouted corn flour? I want to make tortillas, sopes, huaraches and gorditas with that!
Lindsey G. says
There is a link above to where you can buy it. Here is the link again – go to ‘To Your Health Sprouted Flour’: http://www.homemademommy.net/flours-grains-legumes
Ooops! I missed that! I’m checking if the local buying coop gets it. If not, I’ll order some on my own. Again, thank you for sharing!
I think you owe your housekeeper a bag of the sprouted corn flour !
I also learned how to make tortillas from a Mexican friend. My question is this: can you make tortillas from fresh ground non gmo dry corn, such as popcorn? I have make some nice cornmeal this way, but have never tried tortillas. Any advice?
Thanks for sharing. I decided to try to make my own corn tortillas for my family due to GMO products swarming our grocery store shelves. I was debating on which corn flour to purchase.
This was helpful!
I am also from el.paso 😉
Lindsey G. says
Small world! I hope you like them!
I’m wondering if one can use method A instead of B:
A) Sprout corn kernels > grind = wet tortilla dough
B) Sprout > dry > grind into flour > mix w/ water = wet dough
Method A just seems more direct. Can you think of any reason why this would not work?
I have a recipe that calls for you to just soak, then grind. I haven’t tried because my food processor and blender are basically junk so I know they won’t get me a fine meal that I want. But it sounds possible and much more time and cost effective!
Roxanne B. says
Hi! Just found this site and love this recipe. (Can’t wait to try it). But I wonder if you can make the dough balls and freeze them? Has anybody tried that yet?
Lindsey Gremont says
I haven’t tried this – let me know!
Sierra Witkowski says
I can not wait to try this! Me and my husband keep talking about making our own tortillas but never knew where to start. This is super easy. Thank you!
Any idea on how to sprout corn? Just like wheat, leaving it in water over night, then keeping damp until it actually starts to sprout… Or is there another way? I can’t find anything when I search online.
Lindsey Gremont says
Sorry – I just buy the corn flour that is already sprouted! Haven’t tried that yet. All I know about preparing corn kernels is that you can soak corn in lime water…that is how you traditionally make masa but that is different than sprouted.
I sprout it just like I sprout wheat… I had the same problem of finding any info for a long time, until I finally found a website that called for you to do the initial soak over night, then set it in a colander over a dish until the corn starts to sprout… I just left it in the jar I had soaked it in and it seemed to work fine.