Oil-Free Cachapas

If you’ve been actually keeping up with my blog, and thank you if you have, you already know I was lucky enough to live in Venezuela for several years. We took a lot of little trips there and I saw so many very memorable things. One place I’ll never forget was a roadside establishment that simply said “Cachapas” above the entryway to a covered patio where you could walk up and order various corn treats like arepas and cachapas. Arepas are also made on a griddle, but they’re made out of masarepa, which is a type of corn flour. Give them a try sometime. They’re great for sandwiches or if you’re looking for a portable snack. Here is my oil-free version of arepas.

Cachapas are a bit different though, much like this restaurant. This restaurant had animals in cages on display. Even at a young age, I found it so messed up that we were looking at these animals that were also being served there on a corn cake. I wish I had made the connection stick better back then, but at least I’ve figured it out now. There was even a monkey that just roamed the property and would come up to your table while you were eating. It was definitely a unique place. Nothing fancy, just paper plates and plasticware, a simple menu with just a few different choices. You could get some sort of meat which was probably wild boar considering they had some there already captive. Wow, this post has gotten dark. I really am excited to share this treat with y’all. It’s delicious. The restaurant where I remember eating them was just very peculiar.

Enough about that place. Cachapas are very simple. It’s a wonder how such a simple thing can be so fantastic. It’s just sweet corn ground into a thick paste with a small amount of water. People add all kinds of nonsense to them sometimes, like eggs, sugar, or milk, but I find it all unnecessary. A dash of salt and some flax is what I like to add, but both are completely optional. Just make sure you’re working with SWEET corn, otherwise do add sugar. These are supposed to be sweet. I’ve been using this type of corn for everything and unfortunately I’ve found that it’s a trigger food for my sweet tooth. I just don’t eat these at night because that’s when I would eat sweets. I’ve been enjoying them for breakfast a lot lately with a good schmear of corn butter.

 

 

 

You want the batter to be thick so just add a splash of water or soy milk to the corn to get it moving in your blender. Don’t make it thin like pancake batter because these won’t hold together when you cook them. They’re usually made on an oiled griddle so figuring out how to cook them without oil was a bit of a challenge. I heated my griddle, put down parchment paper, then poured the batter on top. Use a spatula to smooth it into a disc. Work quickly so it doesn’t cook too much before you spread it out.

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You want to cook these over medium-low to medium heat depending upon how hot your stove is. I made mine over medium-low and I have a gas range. They will take a few minutes to cook so don’t obsess over them. You should see steam coming off of the top and once the top begins to dry a bit, it’s time to flip. The color will darken ever so slightly, but it’ll still be yellow, just a hair darker and drier and won’t bubble anymore. Don’t burn them! You will know if they’re burning because you’ll smell it. The outside caramelizes and gets very dark because of the natural sugar in corn so don’t let the dark color scare you.

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When you’re ready to flip them over, carefully put another sheet of parchment on top, use a spatula, and flip. These are pretty delicate so take your time and pay attention. It’s so worth it. Once you flip them, let them cook for a few minutes before you peel the top piece of parchment paper off. Use a spatula to help if some parts are sticking. It doesn’t have to be perfect! Now you should just have parchment underneath your cachapas. These take longer to cook than pancakes so just be patient with the corn babies. Once they’re brown and cooked on the other side, serve immediately. They’re traditionally served with a Venezuelan cheese that’s kind of similar to mozzarella, but it’s more elastic and a little pungent. They reheat well in a toaster oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit just until warm. I usually get four cachapas out of one batch of batter, but you can make them any size you want. They’re usually about the size of a plate.

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RECIPE

3 cups of super sweet corn

Dash of water or soy milk

Salt, optional

1 teaspoon of sugar, only if using regular corn

1 tablespoon of ground flax, optional

METHOD

Add your corn and optional ingredients to a blender with just a touch of water or soy milk. Blend until a very thick batter forms.

Heat a griddle over medium or medium-low heat depending upon how intense your range is. These cook for several minutes per side so you don’t want to burn them.

Once the pan is warm, place a sheet of parchment paper down and add about a cup or a little less of batter. Use a spatula or back of a ladle to spread the batter into a disc similar to a pancake.

Let them cook for several minutes, until the top begins to dry a bit, usually around 5-7 minutes. When you’re ready to flip, place another sheet of parchment on top, then flip and cook until the other side is done. You can carefully peel off the parchment a few minutes after flipping. The steam buildup underneath the paper will make it easier to take off.

Once cooked, let them sit for a minute before removing the parchment from the other side.

 

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