Authentic Salvadorian quesadilla is warm afternoon treat traditionally paired with a good cup of coffee. It should have a subtle cheesy/creamy taste and the texture is sort of like cornbread, slightly grainy from the rice flour and sweetened with sugar, but not like a cake. The cheese used in my recipe is queso fresco which is mild as opposed to hard cheeses. I have tasted quesadillas made with hard cheese and I find that for my taste, parmesan sweet bread is just too strong.
When visiting El Salvador we often drop by a roadside restaurant called La Posada in La Libertad, where quesadillas are made in a wood-fired oven. It’s a very artisanal way of making them. It’s similar to the difference between pizza made in a commercial oven vs pizza made in a wood-fired brick oven. Artisanal quesadillas have a slightly darker color all around from the heat of the terra-cotta ovens. It’s the kind of flavor that you want to capture and replicate.
The ingredients in El Salvador are natural and fresh and I tried to mimic those flavors the best I could, opting for crème fraîche instead of “Salvadorian” sour cream from the Latino market. Unfortunately, most brands of Salvadorian cream I have found contain additives and it’s just not the real deal. Real Salvadorian cream is the naturally cultured cream top of freshly milked milk. That’s it. So the cream that is the closest thing to Salvadorian cream is actually crème fraîche. I also used high fat 6% A2/A2 whole milk which you can find at specialty stores like Wholefoods.
- 1 10 oz queso fresco, crumbled or grated
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup (8 oz tub) crème fraîche (or crema)
- 1 egg (you may add 2 eggs that can be whipped and gently folded into the mixture for a more cake-y, airy consistency)
- 1 lb (2 cups) rice flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 12 oz bottle (1 1/2 cups) 6% milk (extra cream top) or whole milk
- Sesame seeds to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Crumble the cheese using your hands or use your mixed with the paddle attachment.
- Add the sugar, cream, and egg. Mix until well combined.
- Add the flour and mix on the lowest speed. Slowly add the milk until you end up with batter similar to pancake batter.
- Pour the batter in greased baking pans or tins and sprinkle with sesame seeds. I used three 7″ pans plus one 6″ pan because that’s what I had on hand. However, you may use any size pan or baking dish as long as you spread out the batter thinly and evenly. Quesadillas are supposed to be roughly 1 inch thin more or less.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. I baked my quesadillas for roughly 35-40 minutes.