Saturday, May 1, 2010

Making Flour Tortillas - Primera Tentativa

Well, I made an initial attempt at flour tortilla making this week.  I judged them to be fair to middlin...

For the sake of honesty, this was not technically my very first attempt at tortilla-making.  I've helped others make them in the past and had tinkered a couple of times in my own kitchen, but I didn't really try very hard to understand what I was doing.  I'm a bit more motivated now since I struggle to find good tortillas locally, but crave them regularly.

I decided to consult a recipe given to me by my friend Jennifer's mother, Anita.  Jennifer hosted a tortilla-making party back in the day and Anita gave us basic lessons and Jen's dad made us all tortilla rolling pins.  I had fun and Anita was a good instructor.  Plus, she makes great tortillas.  Through no fault of this kind family, I found it exceedingly frustrating, though, because my tortillas weren't as smooth and round as the expert.  Blame it on immaturity, but I'm only just slightly more patient now.  The main thing I have going for me right now is the motivation to eat well without a friend's mother on whom I can rely.

So with my renewed sense of purpose, I pulled out Anita's recipe and dug out the rolling pin Vince made me and went to work.  Here's what I did...

Flour Tortillas
Makes about a dozen

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup canola oil

Add all ingredients, except water to a mixing bowl.  Mix together with hands until all is mixed well.  Little pieces start to stick together a bit.

Add warm water a little at a time until you have formed a ball of dough that is pliable but not sticky.  I added about 5/8 cup of water.  Take the dough out and knead it for a few minutes on a floured surface.  Not too much flour, though, you could dry out the dough. Then, I formed a rough ball and wrapped in plastic wrap to rest about 15 minutes.

Heat cast iron griddle or skillet over medium heat.  In the meantime, make balls of dough for each tortilla that is to be rolled.  Roll each tortilla with rolling pin as thin and round as possible.  I made 12 balls intially, but then once I started to roll them out, I decided to make them a bit larger so I ended up with about 9 tortillas in the end.  Push harder on the dough than you do pastry to really make them thin.  And, roll each time from the center and turn the dough to strive for a circle.

Mine were not perfect, as you can see, but I think practice is the key.  Or, at least that is what I'm choosing to believe.

Cook each tortilla on the griddle/skillet turning tortillas over to cook on each side.  I just slid a fork underneath to turn them.  It took about a minute on each side for it to start looking a little bubbly on top and that was my sign to flip them.

Place the cooked tortillas in a towel-lined basket or wrap them in aluminum foil in order to keep them warm.  They are best eaten quickly.

My analysis is that I think I may use shortening (Crisco solid vegetable oil) next batch to test the consistency.  I may want to add a bit more than the 1/4 cup of oil, so it is pliable without increasing the water.  And, I'm gonna keep practicing rolling round tortillas.  Stay tuned for more updates...

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