Grab a copy of The Ultimate Tortilla Press Cookbook and never buy supermarket corn tortillas again. It’s a definitive guide to pressing and baking your way to homemade tortillas, and will ruin you for all others, forever. Ready to learn how to make homemade gorditas and sopes?
Gorditas and sopes — two cousins of corn tortillas — are the masa delivery system for typical Mexican street snacks. They are easier to shape than tortillas because they don’t have to be as thin. Basically, any filling that works with tortillas, especially corn, will be great with gorditas or sopes (pronounced so-pez).
On one hand, gorditas are small, puffy pastries made from leavened dough that may be patted by hand or pressed with a manual or electric tortilla press. Once formed, gorditas are toasted on a hot comal until crispy on the outside but still soft on the inside. They are usually split and filled like pita bread with roasted or stewed meats, cheese, and salsa. If you think they sound a lot like pupusas a la El Salvador (stuffed thick tortillas), you’re right.
On the other hand, sopes are the same basic dough without leavening and a different profile. Sopes look like upside-down, mini Frisbees. With turned-up edges, sopes function like handheld tarts to hold myriad fillings, such as roasted or stewed meats, cheese, and salsa. They also may be shaped by hand or pressed with a manual press, then parbaked, shaped, and fried in hot vegetable oil.
Handiwork: When shaping gorditas and sopes, always keep a small bowl of water nearby to moisten your hands if the dough starts to stick.
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon regular or gluten-free baking powder (omit for sopes)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup lard or vegetable shortening or 1/2 cup vegetable oil or solid coconut oil
- vegetable oil, for frying sopes
For the dough
Preheat a comal or griddle over medium heat to 350ºF (180ºC) or according to manufacturer’s instructions if using an electric press/toaster.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa, salt, and baking powder (if using for gorditas), whisking or stirring to blend well.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water and lard or oil. Heat to melt the lard. Set aside off the heat to cool to lukewarm before combining with the dry ingredients.
Gradually add the lukewarm liquid to the dry ingredients and knead for about 3 minutes. The dough should be the consistency of Play-Doh, malleable and smooth but with enough elasticity to hold a shape.
Divide the dough into 12 golf ball–size rounds.
For the gorditas
By hand, or using a press, shape the balls into ½-inch thick patties or gorditas, about 4 inches in diameter. Cover with a damp towel to prevent drying.
Lightly oil the preheated comal or griddle.
Toast the gorditas over medium heat for a total of 10 to 12 minutes, turning as needed to prevent overbrowning. They should puff slightly while cooking. Gorditas should cook slowly so the inside isn’t too doughy. The outside should have light brown spots.
Allow to cool about 5 minutes for easier handling. Serve plain or split with a knife (as you would a pita or English muffin).
For the sopes
Repeat steps 1 through 5 for dough.
By hand or using an electric press, shape the balls into 12 (⅓-inch thick) patties or sopes. Cover with a damp towel to prevent drying. Do not press as thin as for tortillas. Sopes should be about 4 inches in diameter.
Lightly oil the preheated comal or griddle.
Place each sope on the oiled preheated comal or griddle and cook for about 1 minute or until the dough begins to set. Don’t overcook or the dough will dry and crack. Turn and cook for another 20 to 30 seconds.
Using a spatula, remove the parcooked sopes from griddle. Cover the tortillas with a dry kitchen towel and cool for 30 to 45 seconds or until just cool enough to handle gingerly. Quickly — before they cool too much — turn the edges up to form a lipped edge, like a tart crust, to hold the fillings. Cover with dry towel and repeat until all the sopes are parcooked and shaped. This can be done up to 3 or 4 hours ahead.
When ready to serve, heat ½ inch of oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat to 375ºF. Place the sopes flat side down in the hot oil and lightly fry until crisp and golden, about 1 minute for each side. Remove from the oil, drain on paper towels, and keep warm. Repeat until all the sopes are fried.