This is a flexible and forgiving recipe with any number of ingredients and combinations culminating in a delicious meal. My previous recipe for chipotle chicken enchiladas could be easily adapted for this torta and using my pumpkin mole would be divine. Assembled in a cake pan, this dish produces dramatic results when sliced to reveal the numerous layers and using sour cream ‘icing’ as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the original purpose of the baking dish is a clever way to cut the heat. Although this is a vegetarian dish, it produces a very filling dinner that is excellent reheated the next day. Just as Rivera highlighted local produce in his mural, this tortilla ‘cake’ is the perfect vehicle to play up the versatility of vegetables.

Diego Rivera, Detroit Industry: East Wall (detail), 1932-1933
fresco, variable dimensions, Detroit Institute of Art

The Detroit Industry murals were completed by Diego Rivera in the early 1930s. The twenty-seven panels range in size from 518 x 1,370 cm to 60 x 182 cm and completely surround the viewer in the courtyard. The murals were created as a tribute to the industry and labour in Detroit. The East Wall is the first mural visible upon entering the courtyard with the image of a small baby within a seed – often thought to be the child Frida Kahlo miscarried while Rivera was in Detroit – centralised on the wall. Flanking the baby are semi-nude fertility figures offering produce grown in Michigan (pictured above). The panels embody the origins of human life and begin the cycle of paintings celebrating technology and industry.

{Stacked Tortilla Torta}

1 can refried beans
1 c pumpkin, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 red capsicum, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c corn
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground chipotle chili
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 c water
1 TB chili oil
7 tortillas
1 c enchilada sauce
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 lime
1 avocado
1 c sour cream
1 tomato, chopped
1 bunch coriander (cilantro), chopped

Chop the onion, capsicum and the pumpkin to the same size as a kernel of corn. In a large pan, saute the onion, capsicum, pumpkin and kaffir lime leaves in the chili oil for 5 minutes or until it begins to soften. Add the ground coriander, cumin, chipotle chili, chili powder, garlic, corn and 1/2 c water and continue to cook a further 5-10 minutes until the onion and pumpkin are almost completely cooked and the water has evaporated. Remove the kaffir lime leaves and set the pumpkin mixture aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. To assemble the torta, coat the bottom of a cake pan with 1 TB of the enchilada sauce. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce onto a large bowl, bigger that the tortillas. Dip the first tortilla into the enchilada sauce, flipping to coat both sides. Place in the bottom of the cake pan and spread 1 TB of the refried beans on top. Sprinkle over an even layer of the pumpkin mixture and top with a handful of cheese. Repeat for remaining layers and top with a generous helping of cheese. The number of layers (and number of tortillas used) may need to be adjusted depending on the height of the cake pan. In the middle of the torta, leave one tortilla dry – do not dip in the enchilada sauce – to soak up extra juices. Once finished, cover with tin foil before sliding into the hot oven.

Bake for 20 minutes and remove the tin foil, baking for a further 15 until the cheese is melted and golden. If using a springform cake pan, let the torta cool before removing the rim, otherwise the filling will spill from between the layers. If using a normal cake pan, run a knife around the edges and turn upside down onto a platter once cooled (about 1.5 hours).

To finish, cover the top of the cake with sour cream and arrange slices of avocado, chopped tomato and coriander (cilantro). Serve cut into wedges with a section of fresh lime.