Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups boiling water; stir with a wooden spoon until well combined and smooth (about 1 minute). Cover and let stand 5 minutes.
Scrape dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape dough into a 2-inch-thick disk. Cut dough into 6 equal portions. Working with one dough portion at a time, place dough portion between two sheets of plastic wrap; shape into a ball, and flatten with palm of hand into a 3-inch circle (about 1/2 inch thick); shape edges to smooth.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add arepas to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until arepa begins to brown and a crust forms. Transfer arepas to a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until arepas sound hollow when lightly tapped.
Even though both arepa flour and Mexican masa harina are precooked corn flours, arepa flour is essential to achieve the correct texture for the corn cakes. Look for arepa flour in Latin markets. Since arepa dough is slightly sticky and wet, plastic wrap makes shaping easier.
I disagree with the previous reviewer. I think these are fantastic (and not too difficult), especially with the accompanying savory topping. My family and I love arepas so much that I've located an Internet source for the required P.A.N. arepas flour. I am very happy that Cooking Light introduced me to this dish.
These took a lot of effort to make (the dough is hot and sticky...bad combination) and flavorless compared to things made with masa harina. Instead of this recipe, buy some yellow masa harina and prepare it according to the package instructions for tortillas, but don't press them out so thin as for tortillas(try 1/4 inch thick). It is way easier than these arepas and tastes better. You can also mix the masa like the package directions ahead of time, divide it into balls and keep them in the fridge in an air-tite container, and pull out portions to come to room temperature right before you press and cook them. The premade dough will keep for up to a week and I think the flavor actually improves as it sits.
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