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Making Flour Tortillas

Posted By Suzanne McMinn On September 14, 2009 @ 1:05 am In Breads,The Farmhouse Table | 56 Comments

I’ve been thinking about flour tortillas for awhile now. They’ve been simmering in the back of my mind. While I’ve been cutting up squash and apples and peppers to prepare for winter. What if I get an unbearable hankering for enchiladas in the middle of a snowstorm? Am I supposed to just tolerate that? I had several hankerings for enchiladas last winter when I couldn’t get to the store. And who wants to go without tortillas when you don’t have to? I shall never hanker unrequited again. I was determined to learn how to make them myself before this winter.

And I was surprised by how easy it really is.

I started out by researching recipes for flour tortillas and trying them out. The basic ingredients are pretty standard, with some variations here and there in the methods and measurements. I wasn’t perfectly satisfied with any of the recipes I tried so I experimented with my own methods and measurements until I was: Perfectly. Satisfied.

And here it is! Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

I worked with two different styles of flour tortillas. One is the light, thin tortilla commonly used for burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, etc. The other is a thicker, chewier tortilla you could use to make gorditas, but it’s also great for making sturdier soft tacos and heartier fajitas and quesadillas. Either is excellent for eating out of hand, warm with butter. (Yum!)

How to make Light & Thin Flour Tortillas:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening or lard
1 cup lukewarm water

Mix flour and salt in a medium-size bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter. Stir water in and mix the dough as much as possible with a spoon.

The dough will appear dry at first. Work it the rest of the way by kneading and a pliable dough will result. Cover bowl and let rest for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle a bit of flour in the bowl and knead again briefly. Divide dough into 12 balls.

Taking one ball of tortilla dough at a time, flour waxed paper and stretch the ball a bit to get started. Place dough on the floured wax paper and sprinkle flour on top of the dough.

Roll out the tortilla as thinly as possible without breaking the dough.

If your dough sticks as you pull it up, you aren’t using enough flour. It should pull off the waxed paper easily. (Every recipe I looked at suggested rolling the tortilla between two pieces of waxed paper. I tried that and found it very annoying. There is no need for that. If you flour your tortilla, you should have no problem rolling it out and picking it up, and it’s much simpler without hassling with the extra sheet of waxed paper.)

Rolling out tortillas is relaxing. I set up shop at the dining room table and roll them all out at once.

(Yes, I was just rolling these out with a plastic cup.) I line a large cutting board with waxed paper and transfer each tortilla one at a time to the cutting board. (When I’m finished, I can easily carry the cutting board to the stove to cook them.) Place tortillas in single layers, separating layers with waxed paper.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet to medium-high. (You’re cooking them dry, no oil, so cast-iron is best.)

Cook each tortilla quickly, about 15 seconds per side then flip. Repeat, cooking each side a second time for another 15 seconds per side. Place cooked tortillas in foil and keep wrapped while continuing to cook the remainder.

This recipe makes twelve 6- to 8-inch tortillas. To make larger tortillas, divide your ball of dough into fewer portions. (Remember not to make larger tortillas than you have a pan to cook them in!)

How to make Thick & Chewy Flour Tortillas:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening or lard
1 cup milk

Follow the same procedure as for Light & Thin Flour Tortillas.

The difference here is the addition of baking powder and using milk instead of water. Roll these out just as thinly as the lighter tortillas–they will puff up and become thick as you cook them. When cooking, do 30 seconds per side, only flipping once.

This also makes a dozen 6- to 8-inch tortillas, dividing the dough into 12 balls.

To store tortillas (either style), place in sealed baggies in the refrigerator.

These keep well for a week or more in the fridge. To make them last longer and for added freshness, include homemade dough enhancer in the first step (three tablespoons per recipe batch). You can also freeze them in a freezer baggie for a couple of weeks.

You can vary these endless ways–substitute some whole grain flour. Add crushed hot peppers, chopped olives, anything you like for gourmet tortillas.

Both ways, light and thin or thick and chewy, these are delicious and so simple. I will never buy tortillas from the store again!

I have no idea what all that says, but I like my homemade ingredient list better. I understand it.

Put a pot of beans on the stove before you start preparing your tortillas…..

….for bean and cheese burritos. (See: Homemade Refried Beans.)

Grab the salsa!

See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.

See All My Recipes

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