The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Masa Harina Sourdough

tpassin's picture

Masa Harina Sourdough

I make a delicious masa harina skillet cornbread.  The masa harina vs cornmeal brings a tasty, subtle flavor. because I like it so much, I've been thinking about trying a sourdough bread with masa harina, and now I've tried it.  I was surprised how easy it was.

There have been some other posts on this site about cornmeal or corn flour bread, and now I'm adding my own.  First, some pictures, then the formula.

All baker's percentages for this formula are based on the added flour not including flour in the starter. This flour added up to 10 oz, a small loaf but good for experimenting.

- Masa harina: 35%

- KA bread flour: 65%

- starter (white, 100% hydration): 20%

- liquid: about 100% (see below)

- salt: 2%

- beaten egg: 15% (1 US large egg)

- sugar: 3%

The hydration is unsure because I started at 85% (masa harina can really soak up the water) and added "enough" more without actually measuring it.  The added liquid was going to be milk, but I didn't have any so I used a mixture of half-and-half with water (for non-US readers, half-and-half is a near-cream with fat content between  light cream and milk).

The egg is there to provide some extra structure to try to make up for the lack of gluten in the masa harina.

Mix by hand, rest 1/2 hour, initial knead and stretch.  3 S&F sessions during the first part of the 5 1/2 hour bulk ferment.  Form the loaf, proof 1 hour, bake with steam at 450 deg, reducing to 430 after 20 minutes.  Baked 36 minutes to an internal temperature of 208 deg F.

This is basically my standard day-in, day-out sourdough process.

I didn't know how long to proof for since with the masa harina in the dough I knew its properties would be different from a wheat bread. In the end, the load depressed without springing back when I gently touched it with my finger, but I thought it could go a little longer so I gave it another 10 or 15 minutes.

You can see the loaf developed fabulous ears and had a good amount of expansion.  The crumb is surprisingly open, although the loaf is on the dense side.  It weighed in at 18 oz, whereas an all-purpose flour loaf of this size would be about 16 oz.  Maybe it's the 1.5 oz of egg...

The bread slices well. It has a mild pleasant taste with the corn obvious but not overwhelming.  The crust is chewy rather than crisp or crunchy (despite its appearance).  The crumb is very chewy (not tough, but it stays in the mouth as you chew) so thin slices would be best.

I'm very happy with the way it turned out, the dough was pleasant and easy to work with, and I will probably increase the masa harina content next time to (gulp) 50%.



Benito's picture

Very nice bake Tom.  I haven't used masa harina before.  The crumb is a beautiful colour and I'm sure it is quite tasty.


tpassin's picture

Thanks, Benny!

I have had such good results with masa harina that whenever I see a recipe calling for cornmeal or corn flour, I immediately think of substituting masa harina.  If some grittiness seems desirable, I'll substitute part instead of all.

For this bread, next time I'm thinking of using buttermilk for the liquid (or at least part of it) - I can get some wonderful thick buttermilk at a nearby farm market.  Chopped green chile might be a good addition too, and maybe a little rye. 

rgreenberg2000's picture

That's a beautiful loaf!  A very intriguing, and delicious sounding formula!  I have some masa harina (just some regular, grocery stuff) that I need to use up, so that could be something to play with.  I love the great contrast you got between color and!


tpassin's picture


Let us know how it turns out.


Doc.Dough's picture

Here is a 2019 adaptation of a Portugese broa  that originally was a Milk Street recipe for a hockey puck. I chose to use masa harina because of the familiar flavor of wet-ground corn flour. It seemed pretty clear that the original had never been tried before it was published.  This one is even better if you make it as a sourdough loaf with a levain and no yeast.  It just takes a long time to proof if you make it that way.

tpassin's picture

I made that Milk Street recipe (with sourdough and masa harina) a few times and didn't get a hockey puck.  I thought it was pretty good.  Must be maybe three years ago by now and I don't remember the details.