Tortillas are often taken for granted. We just fill them and eat them without so much as a second thought. It’s unfortunate, really, since your typical store-bought tortilla is completely boring, flavorless and dry.
I wanted to go back to what I used to enjoy on my trips to Mexico, to what our exchange students Ana and Kendra would make. Most of the recipes I found called for baking powder – an ingredient I didn’t recall in their tortillas. I did try a baking powder recipe once (thinking it would give my tortillas lift) and I ended up with hard, flour frisbees. Supposedly if you go past the first one or two tortillas, they end up less frisbee-ish, but I never made it that far (I’m easily discouraged). I’m sure there’s no way the baking powder recipes would be so prevalent if everyone had the same results, so by all means try one of those if you like.
So finally, I asked Kendra for her recipe, which would have made enough to feed an army, scaled down it resembled a recipe I came across on the kitchn. So, I went for it, mashing the recipes, with what i remembered from our visits to Mexico, I finally found a suitable tortilla. Simple ingredients, subtle flavor.
Just flour, salt, fat, and water. That’s all you really need. You can roll them very thin, or keep them a little thicker if that’s what you’re into. I like to cook mine on the grill; everything is better on the grill. You could also add extra spices to the flour mixture, or even a bit of whole wheat, but I like to keep mine simple (you don’t want the tortilla’s flavor to overpower what you put in it). Although, I’ve been known to snack on just the tortillas…
[ Printable Recipe ]
- 2 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
- 3/4 teaspoon Salt
- 5 Tablespoons shortening
- 3/4 cup Warm Water
Whisk together flour and salt. Add cubes of shortening and mush through your hands until the mixture forms coarse crumbs (alternatively, you could use a food processor, it depends on how motivated you are).
Add water to flour mixture and stir or work with hands until a dough is formed (if using food processor, pulse until it comes into a ball)
Knead gently until dough comes together; roll into 10 – 15 balls, depending how big you want your tortillas. Toss balls into the same bowl you used to mix them for storage, covering with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. Let rest about 30 minutes. (This 30 minutes is a good time to cook your taco filling, giving it time to rest while you get back to your tortillas)
Flatten with a press and/or rolling pin until they are your desired level of thinness. I like to flatten mine with the press AND roll them (the press gets them much closer to a circle shape than they would otherwise end up).
Cook over medium-high heat on a nonstick skillet or grill until bubbly. Flip and continue to cook, should take about 30 seconds per tortilla. Be careful not to burn them, if that means you have to flip them a little more often, go for it. Wrap in foil and/or a kitchen towel until it’s time to serve.
* If you use a tortilla press, be sure to place plastic wrap (or a ziploc bag with the sides cut open) over the press to make your tortillas easier to remove (otherwise they will just end up stuck to the press)
* You can make the tortilla balls a few days ahead of time, keep them covered in the refrigerator and use them throughout the week to always have fresh tortillas on-hand.
* If going the food-processor route – whir flour and salt together. Add shortening and continue processing. Stream in water and pulse until dough forms a ball. Pour onto counter and knead into cohesive dough, then roll into balls.
[ Adapted from the kitchn & my good friend Kendra ]