Category Archives: Flour Tortillas

Making Flour Tortillas

It didn’t even occur to me until I was putting this post together that these might seem a little well-done to some of you. But I like deeply toasted tortillas. Store bought tortillas usually sport a few polite light-tan spots on them. I view those as the flatbread equivalent of par-baked bread loaves, meant to be finished at home. I do so with an aggressive heating, right on a stove burner. What you get is not only a boost in flavor, but a crunchy-soft texture that I find irresistible. When I make tortillas fresh, I cook’em until they blister.

Begin by combining your flour, salt and shortening in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle (you can also do this by hand if you wish).

Mix on medium speed for about three minutes, then with the machine running add the warm water.

Keep mixing for about another three minutes until a dough forms and cleans the sides of the bowl.

Divide the dough into twelve pieces of about three ounces each.

Roll the pieces into balls.

Cover the balls with a towel.

Flour your pastry board and set one of the balls down on it.

Gently roll the dough out (you’ll find it’s a very easy dough to roll). Roll a little, turn the dough, and roll a little more until you have a circle that’s about 10″ across.

You can toast the tortillas on a hot skillet as you make them, or roll them all at once and stack them between sheets of parchment, wax paper or plastic. They’ll keep this way for up to a couple of days.

Heat a pan over medium heat. Then, using no oil or fat of any kind, lay a tortilla in. Cook until the tortilla bubbles up in spots, about a minute. It’s better to cook these at a lower temperature than a higher temperature, because the extra time on the griddle will help to cook out the “cereal” flavor and/or texture that can occur with wheat flour.

Flip the tortilla and toast on the other side for another minute or so.

Cool the tortillas for a minute or so each on a towel, then transfer them to the stack, which you’ll want to keep wrapped in a towel or inside a tortilla warmer. They’re best just after they’re made, though they can be refrigerated or frozen. You will of course need to toast them once again to get them ready to serve. That being the case, if you’re planning to store them, try cooking them low until they’re just barely browned, that way you can re-toast them without the risk of burning them.

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Flour Tortilla Recipe

Flour tortillas get a bad rap, widely thought of as “Americanized” tortillas, but they are a staple in many regions of Mexico. Yes they contain fat and yes they contain white flour, but then so do more than a few commercial yeast breads. Combined with some rice, beans and a few pieces of pan-fried plantain, they’re part of Mrs. Pastry’s favorite meal. The recipe goes like this:

12.5 ounces (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
3.5 ounces (scant 1/2 cup) vegetable shortening (or lard, preferably home-rendered, is probably even better, butter is also an option, as is vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the flour, shortening and salt. Mix on medium-low for about 3 minutes until the shortening is incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. With the machine running, add the water and mix another three minutes (alternately, knead by hand for about five minutes).

Divide the dough up into 12 pieces of about an ounce and quarter each. Rolls them into balls and cover them with a towel to keep them from drying out. They can be held for upwards of an hour at this point if you wish. Using a pin and a lightly-floured pastry board, roll them one-by-one into circles about 10″ across. You can griddle them as you go on a cast iron skillet or stack them between pieces of plastic wrap, waxed paper or parchment. Covered, the uncooked dough will keep for a couple of days if you like.

To finish them, heat a 12″ cast iron skillet or omelet pan over medium heat. Lay the tortillas on one at a time, about a minute per side, until they puff up a bit and brown spots appear on them (I like mine more deeply toasted, but it’s up to you). Cool each one for about a minute on a towel, then stack them in a tortilla warmer or wrap them in another towel so they remain toasty for delivery to the table.

Cooled, they can also be refrigerated or frozen. All it takes is a 15-second burst in a microwave to make a cold and rigid tortilla warm and pliable again.

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