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Old 06-03-2014, 10:17 AM   #1
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Angry ISO Help Masa Corn Muffins

Don't know if this should be posted here or under 'breads' but here I go....

I have tried without success to make a light, fluffy cornbread-style muffin or pan style cake muffins made entirely of masa. I could half-sole my shoes with the results.

My wife and I LOVE the flavor of masa and the recipes I've tried on-line do not work particularly well either. I do make wicked Tex-Mex cornbread with with onions, whole kernel corn, cheese, and jalapenas but masa has been a frustration for me.

Got any tips, ideas, suggestions?

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Old 06-03-2014, 12:03 PM   #2
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Well, that's not right.

If I were trying for pure masa bread, I'd keep in mind that masa is significantly more alkaline than cornmeal, like pH 10 versus pH 5, if I read that right. (Nixtamaliztion uses lime to make masa, a strong alkali, so that's not surprising.) Baking soda requires acid to be a leaving agent. Baking powder has substances that produce acids to activate the baking soda part of it.

Now, that'a a big difference in pH between the masa and cornmeal. It's quite possible that it's neutralizing the acids produced by the baking powder, leaving the result something like a really thick tortilla. I'd consider adding an acid source to bring the masa back to the acid side of neutral. (Commercial tortilla makers have to do that, because alkaline tortillas don't keep well) Buttermilk might make a good balancer, subbing for part or all of the liquid. Might have to play with quantities, but I wouldn't be surprised if it got things moving in the right direction. I'd go heavier, rather than lighter. Watch to see if it rises in the oven. If it's slow to rise, add more acid, like lemon juice, citric acid, etc. or buffer the masa by replacing part of it with cornmeal.
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Old 06-03-2014, 04:26 PM   #3
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Corn muffins are made with corn meal, not masa. Masa is used to make tortillas.

Cornbread

Ingredients:

· 2 cups yellow cornmeal
· 1½ cups flour
· 2 tsp salt
· 2 tsp baking powder
· 1 tsp baking soda
· 3 eggs, beaten
· 1 Tbs vegetable oil, for muffin tins
· 2 cups milk
· ¼ cup melted butter
Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spread vegetable oil on the inside of the cups of a muffin tin, or use paper liners.
In a mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and butter. Combine with dry ingredients and stir until all ingredients are moistened. Batter will be like a thick pancake batter.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin tin cups. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until browned. A toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.
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Old 06-04-2014, 08:24 AM   #4
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Oh well...

As I stated in my opening post, I've baked scratch corn bread but I love the flavor/texture of masa and thought there must be a creative way to produce muffins/cake from same. I guess not.....
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:10 PM   #5
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If you search Google for MASA MUFFINS and you will find any number of recipes for masa muffins and masa cornbread, which amounts to the same thing. There's quite a variety of ingredient combinations, and I can't vouch for any one of them, although the ones with photos of the finished product look fine. A few are even pure masa, with no cornmeal or wheat flour. For the reason above, I'd go for one with buttermilk. It's obviously doable. Anything that can be used for a bread in its meal state can be used in its flour state. The difference here is the alkalinity is so high that the making powder needs some help, that's all. I see that those that don't use buttermilk for added acid seem to use substantially more baking powder and add baking soda. I think it probably has to be at least one of those, added acid via buttermilk or via additional baking powder.

Surely you jest, sir knight. A remarkably wide array of things can be made into flour and baked as bread (or muffins), roasted pea flour, tapioca flour, or acorn flour. Bean flour was, in medieval times, the common bread flour of the poor, which is to say a great many people. You can no more say masa is for tortillas only than you can say wheat flour is only for matzah.

I leave it to you to decide if adding any wheat flour, as if often done in cornmeal muffin recipes, is acceptable. It's clearly not necessary.

Masa harina only muffin:

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Old 06-04-2014, 12:24 PM   #6
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I agree that alkalinity might be part of the problem. This can be resolved by adding cream of tarter, or an acidic liquid (such as the buttermilk suggestion). Another part of the problem is that neither corn meal, nor masa harina contain gluten. Gluten is the rubbery protein that captures CO2 bubbles that stretch the dough and make it airy and light. You might want to add either bread flour, or vital wheat gluten to your batter to give it structure enough to rise.

Hope that helps.

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Old 06-04-2014, 01:22 PM   #7
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I'd agree. Vital wheat gluten might be the least intrusive, flavor wise, if some structure is desired. Xanthan gum, guar gum and ground psyllium, flax or chia will also sub for gluten, but it's said that it takes a good bit of the ground seeds to build much structure.

(Ha! There was a time when it would have been pretty silly to suggest those alternatives, but I realize today that I have three out of five of them - and vital wheat gluten - in the kitchen now.)
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Old 06-04-2014, 03:55 PM   #8
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Thanks for your advice - Back to the kitchen....

I'm no chemist but I can cure the PH factor in masa. Full speed ahead!
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