Tortillas

Well, I saw a web page with instructions on how to make “30 second bread”.  I read it several times because it was being touted as the perfect ‘survival’ bread … it was tortillas (but that’s not what they called it … anywhere).  I thought, well, I have the directions for tortillas on my blog!  They could have just looked there … but I don’t (I will now)!

Tortillas … I’ll be completely honest.  I have the directions to make corn tortillas.  I made them once, and they tasted like mashed cornmeal mush, fried.  Nothing like the tortillas in the store.  I think I was using the wrong kind of masa.  I was thinking today (I know, shocker) that the method for making corn tortillas can be used for any grain flour.  You don’t rely on gluten in any way.  Anyway, here are the recipes for both flour and corn tortillas.

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These are adapted from The Border Cookbook:

Sonoran Flour Tortillas

Makes ten 8-inch, eight 10-inch, or six 12-inch tortillas

  • 2 cups high-gluten bread or all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (NO!  Use lard … they aren’t the same without animal fat)
  • 3/4 cup warm water

Stir together the flour and salt in a large bowl.  With your fingertips, mix in the shortening (LARD *grin*).  Add the water, working the liquid into the dough until a sticky ball forms (Kitchenaid with a dough hook works wonders).

Dust a counter or pastry board with flour and knead the dough vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes.  The mixture should be soft but no longer sticky.  Let the dough rest, covered with a damp cloth, for about 15 minutes.  Divide the dough into 6 or 8 balls, cover them again with the damp cloth, and let them rest for at least 45 minutes longer (this is to allow the gluten to form … if you don’t have the time, it won’t hurt them too much).  If not for use immediately, the dough can be greased lightly and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.  Bring the dough back to room temperature before proceeding.

Lightly flour your counter or pastry board.  Flatten a ball with your hand, then roll the dough from the center outward, turn the tortilla a few inches and roll again, attempting to keep the growing circle even.  Roll out the dough into a circle as thin as possible, preferably 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick.  They don’t have to be perfectly round … just make sure you do not have any folds.

Heat a dry griddle or large, heavy skillet over high heat.  Cook each tortilla 10 seconds on each side, then continue flipping (about 10 seconds on each side) until the dough looks slightly dry and wrinkled with a few brown speckles on the surface.  It helps to use a cloth or paper towel to pop any air bubbles that form but be careful … that steam is HOT!

Place cooked tortillas between two cloth towels until you are finished cooking.  Once cool, you can put them into a 1 gallon Ziploc bag and place in the fridge (if you do this while they are still warm, the steam will cause them to become mushy, and nothing’s worse than a mushy tortilla).  I don’t know how long these will last … they are so good, they are gone in no time!

To see how it’s done (none of the videos I found are the same recipe), here’s a great video:
How To Make Tortillas de Harina (flour tortillas)
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Corn Tortillas

Makes twelve 5-inch or 6-inch tortillas

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water, or more as needed

There are two types available in the stores.  One is for tamales, the other is for tortillas.  The difference is the grind.  The masa harina for tortillas is a fine flour, the tamale one is courser but not as course as corn meal.  For authentic tortillas, you cannot use corn flour.  Masa harina is made by taking the dried corn and soaking it in a water/lime solution (to read more about this, go here: What is Masa Harina?).  For any other grain, just grind to a fine flour.

Heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

In a large bowl, mix the ingredients with a sturdy spoon or your hands until the dough is smooth and forms a ball.  The dough should be quite moist but hold its shape.  Add a little more water or masa harina, if needed, to achieve the proper consistency.

Form the dough into 12 balls approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Cover the balls with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.  If any of the balls do dry out before cooking, knead more water into them.  Unlike the dough for flour tortillas, this dough can be reworked.

Place one ball of dough in a tortilla press between the two sheets of plastic that are sometimes sold with the tortillas press or two a 1 gallon freezer bag, cut into two sections.  If you don’t have a tortilla press, you can either roll each ball between two sheets of waxed paper or press between two sheets of waxed paper with a heavy, flat bottomed pot (my pressure canner worked great for this). Flatten to about 1/8 inch thick.  Carefully pull the plastic from the tortilla and lay on the hot griddle or skillet.

Cook for 30 seconds, flip over and cook about another minute, flip and cook the first side an additional 30 seconds.  Place the cooked tortillas between two cloth towels until all tortillas are cooked.  Store as above (once cooled, place in a gallon Ziploc bag and store in fridge).

Here’s a video for making corn tortillas (these videos are to show the techniques):
Making Tortillas in Puebla, Mexico

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