Culinary Anthropologist



When visiting Libby, Tim, Ollie and Abi in Seattle a few months ago we had this in a Bolivian restaurant and found ourselves ordering more and more.  I recreated the recipe, and the home-made huminta was a hit with all of the original dining party, especially the littlest members. 

SmAbihuminta0001.jpg‘Huminta’ may mean something different to most South Americans,
but here is the Copacabana Restaurant version.  For a hot, savoury,
sweet, buttery side dish, you can’t go too wrong with this.

This recipe’s for Abi (aged 1 year and 10 months), who was an enthusiastic guinea-pig
during recipe testing.  Her dad calls them ‘fairy cakes on acid’. You’ll
have to try them to see if you agree.

Recipe:  Huminta.pdf

Serves:  4-8 as a side dish or snack
Time:  1 hour

115g (4 oz) unsalted butter
1/2 pint (1 cup) sweet corn kernels (one big ear, scraped off, or tinned)
1/2 pint (1 cup) sour cream
1/4 pint (1/2 cup) milk
2 large eggs
2 tsps sugar
1 tsp salt
few grinds black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
1/2 pint (1 cup) cornmeal (yellow and stone ground if possible)
115g (4 oz) grated cheese (mature cheddar or something similar)
3/4 tsp baking soda
sweet paprika
another 60g (2 oz) grated cheese

  1. Find a roasting tin that is approx 9”x6”, or any other oven-proof dish that will hold 1½ – 2 litres (6 1/2 – 8 1/2 cups) when full to the brim.  Put it on middle rack of oven and heat oven to 220C (425F).
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Take off heat.
  3. Whisk together all except last 3 of remaining ingredients to make a thick batter.  Whisk in all except c.1 tbsp of the melted butter.  You can make the huminta up to this point and store in the fridge until needed.  Bring to room temperature and mix again before proceeding with the next step.
  4. Whisk baking soda into the mix.  Immediately take roasting tin out of oven, brush it with the reserved butter – it will sizzle and start to colour, which is fine – and pour in the mix.  Return to oven.  Bake for 20 mins.
  5. Take huminta out.  Dust top with a little sweet paprika, then sprinkle over some grated cheese.  Return to oven, reduce temperature to 190C (375F) and bake another 20 mins, or until it looks golden brown on top (and sides and bottom if you peek), has puffed up and a skewer comes out a little moist looking but not with raw egg sticking to it.  Depending on your oven, it may be anything between 15 and 25 mins.
  6. Let cool slightly, so that it’s easier to cut.  Then cut into rectangles as you would brownies and serve while still warm and moist in the middle.

Read my rant about corn here…


  1. Rick

    Someone told me that grass–which would include corn–was a true Darwinian success story: it had trained human beings to propagate it to the near-exclusion of any other plant family. What else could explain huge expanses of lawns and the enormous number of grain products used by human beings?

  2. Anna

    Thanks for your comment. I think Michael Pollan talks about that in his book ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’. Did we domesticate corn or did it domesticate us!? It’s certainly done very well out of the relationship.