I love tamales. I could probably eat them every day and never tire of them. I remember being a child and my Mom used to feed us cans of Hormel Tamales and they were amazing. Do they even make those anymore? Tamales are so versatile and can be made from scratch in a snap. There is no limit to the number of fillings and toppings so the opportunities for creativity are infinite. Now don't get me wrong, making individual tamales for large supper parties with complex fillings can be VERY labor intensive but there are some fun shortcuts when you just want tamales and you want them now.
Crazy Easy Tamale Cake with Fire Sauce
2 cups Masa Harina (corn flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
Begin by combining your dry ingredients, Masa Harina, salt, baking powder and salt until fully combined. Next add the oil and mix together. Now slowly add in the vegetable broth and mix until all ingredients are well combined but DO NOT OVERMIX. Now take out a small casserole dish(glass or metal)and line it with tin foil allowing some to hang over the sides of the dish so you can "wrap it" over the top. Put a layer of parchment paper down and spread mix on parchment. Using another piece of parchment paper the size of the dish, press down slightly so that you have an even layer of dough. Leave that parchment on top and wrap foil over top. Add another couple layers of foil on the top of the dish so that there are no leaks. Next step is to place this dish in the middle of a larger dish. Now place in the oven (no need to preheat oven, it's easier to make your water bath if you are not fighting with a scorching hot vessel) and POUR water all around the dish so that it comes up to about half way. Now cover the whole thing in more foil so it is sealed and cook for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. While it is cooking, make your Fire Sauce.
After your timer goes off, remove from oven and very carefully remove outer foil and lift smaller dish out and set on counter to cool for about 10 minutes. Be very careful because there will be a lot of steam trapped in this contraption! Remove your tamale cake and slice into desired sizes. This is especially great for kids because you can give them smaller portions if necessary.
***This recipe does not use filling, although I did throw a few raisins on top because I thought my kids would enjoy them. The beauty of tamales is you can easily make the tamale and then your "fillings" can just be toppings, it still tastes the same. Think beans, potatoes, and any array of vegetables you like, and of course, don't forget the fire sauce! Be creative. If you want to "fill" these, just double the recipe and layer your filling in between and add 20 minutes cook time***
1 can tomato paste
1 red hot chili (dried or fresh with stem removed)
2 cups water
2 cloves fresh garlic
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all in your high speed blender and then warm in a sauce pan for serving. Be sure to cover your blender with a towel and keep your hand on the top to avoid a tomato explosion in your kitchen. Trust me on this one. Serve immediately with your tamale cake and store any unused portion in refrigerator in a tightly sealed glass vessel for up to one week. ENJOY.