Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Candid Cook: Flour Tortillas

We use a lot of tortillas in this house.  I hate to admit it, but it's true.  And I can't get my kids to eat the store-bought whole wheat tortillas, either.  In addition to being twice as expensive (or more), they are a lot more dry than the "usual" sort.  I gave up on that effort months and months ago.  So, when I made the decision last week to stop buying so many convenience foods, tortillas were on the top of my list of things to try making at home.  I knew I wanted a recipe that used oil instead of lard, and I was fortunate enough to stumble across this one from the Food Network website.  

Before I give you a the recipe, a quick note about the flour.  The pictures shown are from making it with 100% white flour.  However, I have also made it (and enjoyed it immensely) with half white and half whole wheat flour.  That being said, I did not use your typical store-bought whole wheat flour.  I have recently discovered the wonders of Hard White Wheat.  I happen to have my own wheat grinder at home, so I can purchase the wheat in bulk and grind it when I need it.  Assuming you are like most people and simply buy your whole wheat from the store, I have found that the Gold Medal Ribbon whole wheat flour is the most finely ground and works the best in my baking recipes.

Homemade Flour Tortillas

3 cups flour (white, wheat, or a mixture)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup olive oil

Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl, and make a well in the center.

Combine warm water and oil and dump into the center. 

Mix together with a spoon as thoroughly as you can.  It should look something like this:

Dump the contents of the bowl onto the counter top and knead together with your hands until it forms a nice, soft dough-ball.

Separate into separate balls to make the desired tortilla size.  This time I wanted large, burrito-sized tortillas so I divided it into 6 balls.  If you want taco size tortillas, you can do about 8-10 balls.  No matter what, you do have to make it round.  You will never roll out a roundish tortilla if you don't start with a roundish ball.

To roll out the tortilla, I usually do it in three stages.  I know it sounds like it's going to take forever, but seriously the whole process takes me less than a minute.  You may start out a little slower, but you'll get up to speed once you've done it a few times.

First I flatten it with the heel of my hand to get the shape started.

Then I follow it up with a few rolls from the rolling pin, flipping it over and turning it sideways after every couple of rolls. This helps smooth out the dough, but I'm not seriously working on getting it thin yet.  I usually do this till it's about 2 mm thick.

Finally it's time for the last stage.  Remember that this tortilla will puff slightly when you are cooking it, so you want to get it as thin as possible.  Once I get to the part where I'm on my last thinning of the tortilla, I do NOT pick it up and flip it.  It WILL wrinkle.  And I hate wrinkles.  Just keep rolling from all directions and around the edges until you get it as thin as possible.  Mine is usually a little translucent when I pick it up.  Remember it will puff up slightly when it cooks, so you aren't going to end up with a flimsy tortilla.

 Now place the tortilla on a pre-heated, non-stick griddle or frying pan.  I usually set my heat on medium-high.  Cook it until the dough starts to puff up on top.  Now it's time to flip it.

Cook it another 15-20 seconds or so on the other side to get it nice and evenly cooked.

Take it off the pan and place it on a plate.  When the tortillas first come off they can be a little crispy on the outside, so it's best if you can make them first and then cover the stack and let it sit while you fix the rest of your meal before using it.  Mine turned out super-soft that way.

Use your tortillas in whatever delicious way you'd like.  Tonight I had a chicken, spinach, and tomato quesadilla.  Yum!

Store any leftovers in a sealed container or Ziplock bag.


Becky Gentry said...

Do you let the dough sit for 30 minutes before shaping it into balls?

Anita said...

No I don't, Becky - the dough is plenty soft enough.