Last week, I mentioned working on a chocolate bread based off the banana nut bread recipe. I’m close. I’m really, really close, but not quite there yet with the recipe. So we will wait another week or two for that recipe. This week, we’re talking arepas. I mentioned in my first post, I’ll share my triumphs and my not-so greats. This recipe for arepas, from the Maseca website, sort of falls into both categories.
Several months ago, I purchased a bag of masa harina to make corn tortillas. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a long time, and decided to finally give it a whirl. Having a big bag of this corn flour left, I decided to find another recipe to try. While not strictly baking, arepas are a dough so I’m sharing my attempt with you.
Like a corn tortilla, arepas seem fairly simple to mix up: flour, water, a pinch of salt. What could be simpler right? That’s the beauty of this recipe. It takes a knack. A special feel for figuring out when that dough is just right. I’m not sure I have that knack. In the meantime, let us put 18 ounces (4 cups) masa harina, 20 ounces (2.5 cups) water, and 1/2 tsp salt into a bowl.
As you stir, the masa harina just gobbles up the water. You go from a wet gloppy mess to a dry but moist mixture fairly quickly.
At this point, I tried kneading the mixture a bit to form a dough. Which worked. Not sure if that was quite the right thing to do, but it worked.
It left me with a nice lump of grainy dough that seemed moist enough to roll out. I am still wondering if I should have added a wee bit more water (like another tablespoon) to the mixture to make it a bit moister for rolling out.
The dough rolled out well, and I used a large biscuit cutter to form the arepas. The recipe called for 4-inch arepas, 3/4 inches thick. This biscuit cutter was 4-inches and the dough was rolled out to about 1/2 inch.
They looked pretty. All nice and round and ready for the hot dry skillet. Cast iron was the way to go.
Arepas were cooked on each side for about 4-5 minutes. Once cooked, I removed them from the skillet and let them cool a bit.
Slitting the arepa in half partially, I filled it with the mixture I use for Louisiana meat pies.
Verdict: Okay, so-so. The good news? I tried something new to me, and that’s a big component of my cooking life. Woot! Woot! Plus, the meat mixture was divine as usual. The bad news? I didn’t really like the arepa. It tasted too heavy, just too much. I keep wondering how to make this lighter, but this seems to be a basic arepa recipe. Right? Disappointment prevailed. Boooo. I keep thinking that they should probably be smaller, lighter, and a bit tastier (more salt needed!).
Then after trying these out, I saw this post by TT where he ate arepas. And I felt vindicated. They look smaller. And not so thickish and flat. The tops are slightly rounded which makes me think they puffed a bit while cooking. I wonder what would happen if I added a wee bit of baking powder and substituted a bit of milk for the water. And made them smaller. Yeah, stay tuned. I’ll be trying arepas again. With modification, and will report back.
Suggestions and feedback welcome.
Happy Baking, everyone! ~Jenn of Not Exactly Bento
Basic Arepa Dough, Attempt #1
Taken from the Maseca website
- 18 ounces (4 cups) masa harina
- 20 ounces (2.5 cups) water
- 1/2 tsp salt into a bowl
- With a spatula, mix the three ingredients together in a mixing bowl until the masa harina absorbs the water. You’ll be left with a moist-ish mixture.
- With your hands, knead the mixture a bit to form a dough.
- Roll the dough out between 1/2 – 3/4 inches thick.
- With a circular biscuit cutter (or kitchen glass), cut arepas 4 inches round.
- In a dry skillet on high heat, cook arepas 4-5 minutes on each side.
- Slit arepa open with a knife and fill with your choice of meat: loose ground meat, pulled pork, etc.