Tlayudas Bring the Big Masa Energy We’re Looking For

Masa is a very agreeable companion. A willing muse and a team player, it adapts in texture and shape to fulfill your mealtime vision and let its co-stars shine on the plate.

But sometimes delicious masa needs its own moment to shine. To spread its wings, claim its territory and emphatically mark its spot on the table. Sometimes, masa needs a stage.

Enter the Tlayuda. A vast, sturdy canvas waiting to be adorned in whatever tapestries of flavor you can dream up.

What is a Tlayuda?

Tlayudas are large-format (up to 14 inches) tortillas that are often crisped, topped, and served open-faced (pizza style) or folded over (calzone style). These large-format tortillas appear in three distinct textures; however, only one of the three is technically called a tlayuda. That’s because the name itself refers to a specific level of cooking doneness of the tortilla: semi-toasted and ideal for folding and crisping up later on with asiento/fat, black bean purée, quesillo, thinly-sliced cabbage, and salsa tucked inside.

The tlayuda traces its roots to Oaxaca, the masa mecca of the world and believed by many to be the very birthplace of corn. The bolita corn varietal grows bountifully in the state’s Valles Centrales, essential for the structural integrity of tortillas of this size. When preparing masa for tlayudas, some producers will traditionally nixtamalize this corn in ash instead of cal.

Tlayudas are sometimes called clayudas, as the latter is considered easier to pronounce in English-speaking contexts. But we don't make fresh masa to take the easy way out, right? Give it a shot:

T-la-yu-da

You're a natural.

While freshly ground masa made from bolita corn is the ideal (at least, the most traditional), masa harina can indeed do the trick. That said, not all masa harina is created equal. We have found that most brands lack the structure to hold a masa shape of this size. So, if you're looking for the right fit for this application, Masienda's yellow masa harina is your best bet. Like all of our masa harina options, our yellow masa harina is made using whole heirloom corn that is gently cooked and slowly steeped in an alkaline bath--an ancient process known as nixtamalization. It is then carefully ground and slowly dried to preserve all of its nutrient density, flavor and natural aromas for a masa harina so good that you'll think it was fresh from the molino. ¡Provecho!

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