For almost seven months I have been tortilla free. This is not a lifestyle choice, it is a situation of circumstance. On the odd occasion that I do find a package for purchase, at more-than-meat prices for a small bag of eight, I've been forced to go without (aside from the ones my sister sent at Christmas!) for the duration of my island life.
Last October, when I first learned of my unfortunate lack of wrap, I searched for (and found) a recipe for flour tortillas. Since then, I have been in a constant conflict with myself over whether or not I should try. "There must be some secret formula for tackling tortillas or everyone would always be making them," I thought to myself while reviewing the way too simple steps and, even though my printed copy omitted any mention of a proper press mechanism, I was stubbornly insistent that one was needed in order to make them right. Each time I considered giving it a shot, I quickly talked myself out of it, balking at the imminent disappointment for lack of the "real thing".
Now, all these months later, with my travel plans recently confirmed for a return trip to the lovely land of groceries, one would assume that I could hold out for just a few more weeks (wrong!) In recollection, perhaps it was even because of that; the knowing that an actual burrito was in my foreseeable future was the straw that finally broke this camel's back. Whatever the case, I was bravely inspired. Besides, other than a couple hundred grams of flour, I really had nothing to lose.
The following photos were taken from my second batch of tortillas, not because the first ones were a flop, but because they were so terrific that I just had to make them again (along with a spelt-wheat batch for a friend). I will likely never buy tortillas from the grocery store again. Yes, really.
To make six medium sized tortillas, combine 225g (1½ cups) flour, ½ tsp baking powder, a little less than ½ tsp salt and a pinch of sugar in a bowl. Cut in 1½ Tbsp of lard until well blended. Gradually add 125 mL (½ cup) lukewarm water, mixing to form a crumbly dough. I find that my hands are, by far, the best equipment for this.
Once you have a nice crumbly dough, form it together into one large ball and knead very well until smooth. Form the dough to a cylindrical shape and cut into six equal pieces; roll each piece into a ball and set them aside for about fifteen minutes. This is the perfect time to prepare whatever you will be filling your tortillas with once you finish cooking them.
|six equal pieces | resting dough balls|
After their rest, place a seriously generous amount of flour on your counter. Working one at a time, flatten each of the dough rounds with your hand, flip it over, then roll it out flat with a rolling pin. Use a good amount of pressure and roll the dough as thin as possible, continuing to flip as necessary and keeping your work area well floured so your tortillas don't stick to the counter or the rolling pin.
|dough ball flattened by hand|
|rolled out thin|
Cook each tortilla on an ungreased griddle or cast iron pan over medium heat, flipping when the first side begins to blister and brown. As your tortillas puff up, keep them pressed flat with the back side of a spatula, spoon or flipper. When they become too bubbly to keep flat, they are done. Total cooking time will be roughly 1½-2 minutes each. As you remove your tortillas from the pan, wrap them in a dry towel to keep them warm.
|before flipping the blistering tortilla|
|pressing down bubbles|
I could not, in good conscience, pass along this recipe without first ensuring that these tortillas had endured a full range of qualification tests to prove their worth. Having now used this recipe to make tortillas for soft wrapped burritos, fried quesadillas and baked enchilada-ish style wraps, I can confidently encourage you to try these easy, delicious and low cost replacements for any flour tortilla variety that you'd normally buy at the store. Olé!
|white flour and spelt wheat tortillas|