Print the recipe card! baked taco shells
Thanks to these shells, crispy tacos are the next to be added as a meal choice on my food storage menu! I’m really excited to share these with you — they turned out so well! Baked rather than fried, they’re so much healthier than store bought taco shells yet still super crunchy. Also, taking from an idea from the tamales recipe, I added a can of corn (processed into a puree) into the masa dough to boost the flavor of the tortillas themselves, brushed the cooked tortillas with a mixture of oil, lime juice and chili powder and then sprinkled with salt before baking. These tasted the best yet!
The biggest trick here was adapting the baking/taco shaping idea to my sun oven. In searching for what I needed, I was excited to find a set of baking racks made especially for sun ovens that solved the problem. Beyond that, I had to find a way to get the height I needed in stacking the baking racks while creating a way to transfer it all to the oven quickly, conserving precious heat. This is what I came up with.
Let’s go make some taco shells!
Makes 12-15 shells
4 cups Masa flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 (15 oz.) can whole corn (I like Del Monte’s brand)
1/2 -3/4 cup water
1/8 cup oil
1 tsp. lime juice
pinch of chili pepper
Tools and supplies needed (*for use with a Global Sun Oven; may need to be adjusted with a different sized sun oven )
2 Sun Oven baking racks (*see note)
2 (9 1/4 inch) square shelf brackets (*see note)
Set bricks in sun oven to heat along with the oven (*see note).
Mix together masa flour, salt and baking soda. Add in pureed corn (including the water in the can), stirring with a spoon and then 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water, mixing with clean hands until the dough is a good consistency. Using your hands to mix in the water will make it easier to be able to tell if the dough is too wet or too dry. Working with small to medium sized dough balls, press dough in between two sheets of wax paper using a tortilla press. After initial press, use a rolling pin to press the dough as thin as possible. It still needs to be able to transfer to the skillet in one piece, but the thinner you can press the dough the crispier your taco shells will be. (I’ve found it’s easiest to prepare a number of pressed tortillas before cooking rather than pressing one then cooking it, etc.)
Carefully remove the tortilla from the waxed paper. It’s easiest to remove the paper that was on the bottom first, since after being rolled with the rolling pin the wax paper creases on top of itself more so on the bottom than on the top. The top layer of paper is easier to remove last to keep from accidentally tearing the tortilla dough.
After removing tortilla dough from the waxed paper, place onto a very hot skillet and allow to cook for 10 seconds or so, watching carefully so that it doesn’t burn. Flip over and cook 10-15 seconds on the other side.
Once all the tortillas are cooked and somewhat cooled, brush each one with oil mixed with lime juice and chili pepper. Use a knife (with a small dish as a template) to cut the tortillas into a circle. Place tortillas over top of a baking rack bar in an upside “U” shape. Bake in a sun oven, atleast 300 degrees, for 45 minutes. Bake in a conventional oven at 425 for 6-8 minutes.
Preheat Sun Oven, removing metal balancing tray and placing bricks in to heat with the oven.
Puree the corn using a manual food mill, or (if electricity is available) a food processor. (I first drained it here only because if using a food mill it would need to be drained first.) Mix together dry ingredients.
Add in the water from the corn and corn puree, stirring in with a spoon. Mix in water until dough is a good consistency.
Not too dry, not too wet. Dough should come together easily when pressed into a ball.
Assembling the baking racks…(bricks are shown just to demonstrate how it will sit in the sun oven)
Ready to go out to the oven!
Working quickly, preferably with a second person to open the oven door, place the secured stacked baking racks into the sun oven wedging a pencil into the corner of the oven door (just before latching the door) to allow steam to escape.
The temperature of the oven is 350 degrees before opening it to put the racks in…
With the racks secured with wire, it’s easy to get them into the oven quickly. The temperature stayed steady at 350 and I was very happy!
Bake for 45 minutes in sun oven. I believe my temperature dropped to 275 at one point with overcast clouds but that was the lowest it went. At 45 minutes they were done. I could tell they were done because I could see that they were lightly browned.
Baking in a 425 degree heated conventional oven…
Use a long handled utensil to place the tortilla onto the oven rack.
Bake 6-8 minutes…
Finished taco shells… sun oven baked on the left, oven baked on the right. Believe it or not, the sun oven baked shells were crispier overall than the oven baked ones.
Ready to fill with all sorts of good things!
- The shelving brackets I found and used here are made by Real Organized. They originally came with a plastic outer casing that I removed and can be found at most any home hardware store (these came from Lowes) for somewhere around $2 each.
- Placing the bricks in the sun oven will both help with the height you need in hanging the tortillas and (since they’re heated along with the oven) help to stabilize the temperature. Going along with this, the biggest key to getting crisp taco shells is getting (and keeping) your oven hot. Start heating the oven mid morning and have your tortillas ready to go in at the hottest point of the day. As I mentioned before, in transferring the baking racks into the oven, work as quickly as you can to get your sun oven door shut fast.
Using a rolling pin, roll the tortilla between two flexible cutting mats…
Using a third mat, loosen the top of the tortilla.
Next, loosen the bottom of the tortilla in the same way, scooping up the tortilla as you go.
Slide the tortilla onto the hot skillet, cooking for 10-15 seconds on each side.
Brush cooked tortillas with lime juice, a sprinkle of salt and chili pepper if desired. Follow instructions trimming into circles and baking same as above.