Testing Flour Tortilla Recipes

Every once in a while, I get the desire to really test out something we make from scratch so I can depend on it again and again.  I don’t like buying processed things from the store – heck, I don’t like buying anything from the store because I would rather grow it or raise it myself!  But this lifestyle is a process; I can’t raise everything we eat right now because we still live in the city, but there are still a few things on my list that I can check off and start making at home.  Tortillas are one of those items.

Over the years we have tried a few different recipes.  Some with lard, butter, vegetable oil.  Up until recently, they have all been more like chips and not like soft tortillas that will bend and curve around what you’re eating.  Or not rolled out enough and end up tasting doughy.  Or left to cook too long and burn.  As with everything, practice makes perfect.  While they aren’t perfectly round like the ones you buy in the store (I don’t have a press, and my rolling skills need more practice), they are soft and yummy and stay soft overnight!

I actually have three recipes that for me would all serve different purposes.  I will start with my most favorite recipe first and directions to follow, because they are all made the same way.

Flour Tortillas I (Soft and flexible, great for anything)

  • 2c flour
  • 1.5tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 2/3 c water (give or take)

Flour Tortillas II (Very soft, great for rolled applications such as burritos)

  • 2c flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c warm milk (give or take)
Flour Tortillas III (Firmer texture, great for deep frying for use in chimichangas or chips!  Yum!)
  • 3c flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5TB Lard (or unsalted butter)
  • 3/4 c warm water (give or take!)

Directions for making (picture to follow):

  1. Combine dry ingredients and fat (lard, butter or vegetable oil).  Pulse in a food processor or use your fingers, a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the fat into the flour.  Once the fat has been worked well into the flour and the mixture is crumbly, add some warm water or milk.  You want just enough to bring the dough together.  Add the water or milk in a stream as your food processor is running and just as soon as the dough forms into a ball stop the processor and there is no need to add additional water.  If you are doing this by hand, add a little water or milk at a time and continue mixing until your dough holds together and is no longer sticky.
  2. Flatten your dough ball into a disk and divide into 8-12 pieces. The more you have, the smaller your tortillas will be.  Roll each piece into a smooth ball and set under plastic wrap to rest for 10-30 minutes.
  3. Heat a dry, ungreased skillet over medium high heat.  Lightly flour a flat surface and begin to roll your tortillas out.  I do them one at a time and roll the next one as the current one is cooking.  Or, you can roll them all out ahead of time, set them into a pile, separating them with a piece of wax paper.  When rolling it’s important to try and keep them as circular as you can (flatten the ball with your hand, roll straight up and down.  Flour as necessary.  Peel it up, turn it 15 degrees, roll up and down again, peel it up, turn it again, roll straight up and down – eventually by rolling and turning you will have a tortilla with smooth edge).  Roll the tortillas THIN.  Paper thin.  I rolled mine so thin that the dark color of my counter began to show through the dough.  As these cook they will puff a bit, so roll them thin.  If it’s too thick your tortillas will not cook all the way through and taste doughy.
  4. When your skillet is nice and hot, place one tortilla in it, nice and flat. You will start to see bubbles forming on the top.  When you see several bubbles, flip it over (don’t cook it any longer than 30 seconds per side – if bubbles down form in this time try raising the heat slightly).  Cook about 30 seconds, and remove.  Pile cooked tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap to retain steam, this will help keep them nice and soft.
  5. These freeze great!  Once they are completely cool,  insert them into a freezer bag.  Label with the date and contents, and freeze.

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