Flour Tortillas

Flour Tortillas

 

To propose making flour tortillas at home in lieu of the store bought variety is not going to be an easy sell, but with a little friendly persuasion you just may be convinced otherwise.

Flour tortillas are remarkably quick, easy, and fun to make. Easier said than done you’re thinking, right? Well, the recipe has only four ingredients that are whirred together in a food processor, hand rolled into tortillas, and quickly baked in a hot skillet. That’s all there is to it!

Once you have the routine down and savored the soft billowy tortillas you have just made you will never be tempted to go back to the dry tasteless flour tortilla you can pick up in the supermarket. These tortillas are every bit as good as those made in homes and taquerias south of the Mexican border, I promise you!

 

Flour tortillas   makes 12

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
  • 5 tablespoons unprocessed lard, vegetable shortening, or solid (refrigerated) virgin coconut oil
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cups + 1 or 2 tablespoons warm water

Lard? Don’t you remember how light and flaky your grandmother’s pie crusts were?

I do not claim to be a dietary expert, but it is my understanding that unprocessed lard (meaning not partially hydrogenated and containing monounsaturated fat (good fat) is a better choice and more digestible than partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening that is considered a trans fat (bad fat). Using solid (refrigerated) virgin coconut oil is yet another healthier option. In any case, if you follow an otherwise healthy diet, a small indulgence using unprocessed lard, coconut oil, or even vegetable shortening to make your tortillas is not going to kill you!

Dough:

Place 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour in the work bowl of a food processor and add the lard, vegetable shortening, or solid (refrigerated) virgin coconut oil over the surface of the flour. Pulse until the fat is completely incorporated into the flour.

Stir the salt into the warm water until dissolved. Turn the processor on and add ¾ cup of water in a steady stream through the feed tube. Continue running the processor until the dough forms into a ball.

Stop the machine and feel the dough. It should be very soft and moist. If it is not, break the dough apart and add a tablespoon of water. Run the machine until the dough forms a ball. If still too firm, break the dough up once again, add another tablespoon water, and again run the machine until the dough forms a ball.

Remove the dough from the processor and divide into 12 pieces, rolling each piece into a ball. Cover with a damp towel and rest the dough for half an hour.

Rolling out the dough:

Place a ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with a little flour and flatten it with the palm of your hand. Roll forward and backward across the dough. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat rolling and turning the dough until the dough is rolled out into a thin round tortilla, about 7 inches in diameter. Don’t worry about the shape. Practice makes perfect.

If you are working alone, continue rolling out the remaining tortillas, stacking them and covering with a towel. If you have a kitchen helper you can speed up the process, with one person rolling out the tortillas while the other skillet bakes the tortillas.

Baking the tortillas:

Heat a cast iron comal (flat round tortilla griddle) if you happen to have one, a cast iron skillet, or heavy bottomed saute pan until evenly hot.

Place a tortilla in the center of the hot pan and lightly press it out evenly with your fingers so it is flat. Cook until the tortilla begins to puff up with air pockets, about 1 minute. Lift the edge of the tortilla to see if browned spots have appeared on the underside. If so, promptly turn the tortilla and cook an additional minute.

Transfer the tortilla to a basket lined with a kitchen towel and cover to keep warm while you continue to bake the remaining tortillas. The tortillas will stay warm if well covered for 30-40 minutes.

If you plan to use the tortillas later, once cooled, place in a plastic zip lock bag and refrigerate for several days.

To reheat the tortillas, very lightly mist between each tortilla with water. Wrap in a towel and reheat in a moderate oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

The tortillas can also be frozen for longer storage, but the end result when reheated is never quite as light and airy as the freshly made.

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