I did corn dough empanadas and the dough felt almost like wet sand and was tearing apart in my hands, impossible to shape up.

What should I do better next time ?

I followed this simple receipe:

  • 2 1/2 cup (290 g) corn flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup warm water (plus a splash or two of water)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

I tried to add more water and/or more flour and it was the same.

I finally added weat flour to save the day as the clock was ticking but I really wished I could land that dough.

edit: I used the parchemin paper technique for shaping and it went well.

I really wonder about the texture of raw dough not about shaping technique. I couldn't achieve any of the shaping steps with my dough.

  • How finely ground was the corn flour? If it was 'corn meal' even if 'fine corn meal', it's going to be more sand-like. In the US, you would look for something called 'masa' (which is a flour-like grind, after it's been treated with lye.) I'm not sure how it'd be labeled in Canada.
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 1:38
  • It was not corn meal, it was labled as corn flour and was really finer than the corn meal I have. Texture was pretty much like regular wheat flour.
    – vinni_f
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 3:12
  • 1
    You need to use corn masa for this. Corn meal or corn flour will not give you the texture you desire. Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 13:08
  • @jbarker2160 Please add an answer with masa and I will make it the chosen one! I saw masa a lot on the blogs when looking for receipes and thought it was more of a brand or something... Since I had a product labled as corn flour at home and most receipes reffer to the ingredient as corn flour I thought I would be ok.
    – vinni_f
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 13:36

4 Answers 4


Corn masa is what you need for this.

The process of nixtamalization makes the corn more easily ground and therefore the texture of doughs made with it will not be "gritty" in the way that a dough made with corn meal or corn flour will be.

Also, corn masa (or masa harina) is more nutritious than standard corn products due to the chemical changes that result from the nixtamalization process.


Just a few weeks ago, I was trying to make empenadas with a corn dough, and the dough didn't quite come together (as it was way too wet and sticky, even after I let it sit and hydrate for a while). I'm not sure what I did wrong, But I also had problems with shaping them. I got around the issue with the following technique:

  1. Cut up a large zip-top plastic bag so you have a sheet of heavy plastic.
  2. Spread the dough/batter onto the plastic
  3. Place a spoonful of filling on the dough.
  4. Use the plastic to wrap the dough around the filling. (pull one side over, peel it back, pull the opposing side over, repeat for the top & bottom).
  5. Transfer to the baking sheet
  6. Repeat 2 through 5.
  7. Bake

It didn't look empenada-like. It was more like a naked tamale, as with the consistency of my dough, I didn't trust it to have the lip on it. I ended up frying them, as I already had oil going (and the oven was taken up by something that fell apart when frying).

  • thanks, good story. I just edited my post to make it clearer. TL;DR I had a texture problem, it was not even possible to do what you propose.
    – vinni_f
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 3:19

Corn flour is known in the US as cornstarch, it's not the right thing at all. You want corn meal. Corn starch is used as a thickening agent, it's not something you could use to make a dough. Depending on where you are in the world corn meal may be called Polenta or Masa if it's not called corn meal.

  • It was not corn stach either, I am sure of it. The texture of dried corn stach is very different from flour. But this being said maybe you are right, I might use corn meal. Which kind of corn meal?
    – vinni_f
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 12:44
  • UK 'corn flour' is corn starch. In the US masa harina is sometimes labeled as 'corn flour'
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 17:29
  • Right @Joe, it is corn starch. Most UK corn meal is labeled both polenta and corn meal, but it's hard to find the equivalent of US corn meal as what you get isn't as fine.
    – GdD
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 8:25

Use more egg and flour is my advice.

  • 3
    Welcome to the site! Could you please explain abit more - your statement of "more egg an lour" as very vague. OP gave a recipe, how exactly should it be changed in your opinion?
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 12:13

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