Salvadoran Breakfast Cake (a.k.a. Quesadillas)

By • June 14, 2011 • 145 Comments



Author Notes: Think cheesy poundcake. Think party food. Think happy mornings, popping a few too many quesadillas in your mouth. In El Salvador they eat rich, buttery quesadillas in the morning with a big cup of coffee and I suggest you do the same. You’ll love the slight crunch of the sesame seeds in combination with the sweet/salty cake.

Note: An asterix indicates ingredients that can sometimes include gluten. Generally, gluten free versions can be purchased at health food stores. Be sure to read all labels carefully. - Sasha@GlobalTableAdventure
Sasha (Global Table Adventure)

Food52 Review: We were instantly won over by these mysterious, ethereal breakfast cakes. Even the uncooked batter, a cloud of sugar, butter, sour cream and rice flour lightened with egg and perfumed with parmesan, inspired rhapsodic musings. Sasha's Salvadoran "quesadillas" are a unique blend of sweet, savory and tangy, with the texture of a fine, delicate corn muffin. The edges of the little cakes crisp and brown beautifully, while the centers remain snow white and tender. We recommend letting them cool for at least 10 minutes before removing them from the pan -- we found they slipped out easily this way. - A&MA&M

Makes 18

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream*
  • 1/2 cup grated hard cheese, such as cojita or parmesan*
  • sesame seeds, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the rice flour, baking powder, and salt. Then, in the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter with sugar. Drop in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. Next beat in the sour cream, cheese, and rice flour mixture until a smooth batter forms.
  4. Spoon into greased muffin tins, filling each one 4/5th of the way up (this batter does not rise much). Sprinkle on the sesame seeds, to taste.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature - it'll taste like a cheesy pound cake. Amazing with a cuppa coffee in the morning.

Comments (145) Questions (7)

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Food52

5 months ago Manhattan Tart

Though my daughters loved these (they dispatched 8 between the two of them!) my husband and I thought they were kind of weird and greasy. Thanks to other reviewers I cut back a tiny bit on the butter (used 3/4 c.) and sugar (maybe 13-14 Tbs. instead of the full cup), and they baked for about 23 minutes. My husband said they seemed underdone but I'm guessing that's the desired texture, like Pao de Queijo. They had nice flavor (salty & sweet; I added a glug of vanilla, which I'd do again) but texturally were too gummy and moist for my liking and, though they certainly felt light & fragile when removing them from the pan (had no trouble with crumbling or sticking) they tasted heavy-ish, I guess because of all of the butter. If I made them for my daughters again, I'd use 1 stick of butter and 3/4 C. of sugar.

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9 months ago Georgi Sidel

I baked them directly as the recipe called for. They are so good! They popped out of the muffin tin after 15 minutes of baking and 10 minutes resting in the pan. Mine did not crumble in any way. They were moist and held together even when biting in to them. I used cotija and light sour cream. WOW there were so good. Served with chili tonight but what a delish breakfast. So glad you shared this recipe with us! Thank you!!

Fortunes_

9 months ago Deborah Reeves

I really liked these but I can understand the mixed reviews concerning the quantity of butter and sour cream. They are very rich - you sort of have to forget about your arteries for a few minutes and just enjoy them. Yet for something so rich, they are indeed light and delicate to the point where a couple of them crumbled apart when removing them from the pan. We waited more than ten minutes and were very gentle but they really are that crumbly. It didn't matter too much to me - I ate them with a fork - but if I had guests and was at all concerned about presentation, that might be a bit frustrating. But not too much! I was more than happy to pick at the crumbs. Used Cojita over Parmesan - can't imagine enjoying parm very much, it seems an overpowering flavor to pair with the sweetness. Cojita was flavorful but in an understated way. Will definitely make again but might fiddle with quantities a bit.

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11 months ago George Bixby

Great recipe! Just made these for the second time, and I have to say my wife and I preferred the Cojita over the Parmesan. Both times they came out excellent, but they were moister and the flavor was better with the Cojita.

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12 months ago chiefkief

I can't get enough of these yummy treats! My friend, Elyse (below) made these (I am the aforementioned celiac friend) and we had them for brunch today. I second the parmesan preference!

Stringio

12 months ago Elyse Orecchio

I made two batches, one with parmesan and one with cotija. I actually preferred the parmesan but maybe I'm not exotic enough. :) If I made them again I'd halve the sugar. Yummy, though, and filled up a 24-muffin pan producing adorable thin little cakes that I'll be serving to a large group of friends with breakfast tomorrow. Nice for my celiac friend to have something yummy to eat that everyone else will enjoy too.

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12 months ago Monica L.

This is a little piece of heaven!! In 4 days, I've made 3 batches already! Brought some to a camping trip, served them for breakfast and our Mexican friends LOVED it especially because of the Cotija. It was so nice to wake up to these cakes and have them with coffee on that cold morning by the river. This will definitely be a staple for camping trips and breakfasts for house guests. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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12 months ago roopa

These were really good taste wise. I halved the recipe and halved the butter in the halved recipe . I used just one egg. They were still on greasy side. I think I can half the sour cream as well.

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about 1 year ago Mlouise

I have made them with plain flour and they were good....favorite way is half rice flour and half regular

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about 1 year ago Yuselin Maknoun

I have a Salvadorian friend that always use to bring me some, but she makes it in a loaf but these individual ones look adorable and lend themselves to even be an appetizer of some sort too.

Stringio

about 1 year ago Amirah Harith

These look amazing! Can the rice flour be replaced with plain flour?

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about 1 year ago Tk3

I read all of the reviews and decided to use a 1/2 cup of butter instead-just to see. They still turned out great! They were super rich and delicious!

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over 1 year ago dollarstodonuts

These quesadillas are wonderful!! I'm a baker at a restaurant and I've made these several times for our Sunday brunch gluten free pastry but everyone loves them, not just our gluten free patrons. I have to make a triple batch so there will be plenty for our staff as well. Usually I use cotija and sour cream. However, today I made them with crema salvadoreña and cotija and they are way more fabulous! I highly recommend using these two ingredients over sour cream and parmesan. I also made them into mini muffins and they turned out great. Always a big hit! Thank you.

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over 1 year ago Mlouise

For a day or two, mine were fine on the counter in a cool kitchen. I actually froze half so I would stop eating them and they were good.

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over 1 year ago lindarhima

i just tried them with regular flour. very good although this is my first time having them so i have nothing to compare them to... How should these be stored? refrigerator or cupboard?

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over 1 year ago Mlouise

My husband loves these...has anyone tried them with regular flour with the idea that they might be a little less fragile?

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over 1 year ago Mlouise

Forgot to add that I used a European style sour cream which is much tighter and heavier than the usual.

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over 1 year ago Mlouise

Rich but rather wonderful and satisfying. Probably not as bad for me as some of my morning favorites. Could the difference in results be from the cheese used. I threw in some Parmesan that had been grated and sitting in the frig for a few days so it may have been a little drier.

Stringio

over 1 year ago Daisy M Flores

I always wanted to learn to do the Salvadoran quesadillas. .. Thank You! :)

Sasha_with_ava

almost 2 years ago Sasha (Global Table Adventure)

I think it really depends what temperature you eat it at. If you eat it warm out of the oven it will be really greasy. It is definitely very rich.

It's important to note that other cultures enjoy different ratios of fat in their food. I'm constantly amazed by how much red palm oil goes into West African food, for example. Personally, I love learning these things. It's so fun to taste and see where we're similar and where we're different.