I hope I don’t lose you on this one. Because, probably even a year ago, I would have seen this recipe title and furrowed my brow and clicked on over to the Huff Post or something. Homemade tortillas sounded like a gargantuan task to me — somewhere between homemade bread and homemade puff pastry (although I had no experience to ground this opinion in).
And then one Saturday, I decided to make them. And just like so many other made from scratch things, I found out they were simple. So easy that I felt guilty for not trying them sooner. You don’t need to mess around with yeast, you can control your ingredients completely, and they are deliciously tender and well worth the effort of rolling them out. Now, if you are really into tortilla making, you can get a press that will apparently do the work for you. But the dough is so easy to work with that I found a small wooden rolling pin worked perfectly (not so much for corn tortillas, however — I think a press would be very helpful for those).
Most tortillas would be made with lard or shortening, but I used butter and really liked the flavor that it imparted. (I’m also a butter pie crust kind of gal, though…) Use whatever solid fat or shortening that you like, however. The tortillas are really delicious for soft tacos or burritos — something where you can really appreciate how tender and buttery they are. However, I wrapped my leftovers tightly and stored them in the fridge and they were great for quesadillas and lightly fried tacos.
Homemade Flour Tortillas
Makes 18 – 6 inch tortillas
4 cups flour (I used 2 cups of white flour and 2 cups of white whole wheat flour, but have also used mostly white whole wheat and have mixed in sprouted spelt flour too)
2 t salt
1/2 cup of cold butter (1 stick, cut into small chunks)
2 T oil (mild flavored, like canola oil)
1 cup of warm water
1. Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl and cut in butter using a pastry blender or a food processor. Mix in oil and warm water and stir with a sturdy wooden spoon until it comes together into a dough. Turn the dough out onto the counter or a wooden board (dusted with a bit of flour) and knead for 3-4 minutes until the dough is cohesive and smooth. Flatten dough into a rectangular shape and wrap tightly in plastic or parchment and refrigerate for about an hour.
2. Remove dough from fridge and cut it into about 18 similarly sized pieces and roll each one into a ball. Keep dough pieces covered while you work with one at a time.
3. Heat a dry saute pan or griddle over medium low heat.
4. Take one dough ball and roll it out using a small wooden rolling pin (you might even want to raid your kid’s playdough tools for a good one!) You will want to get it pretty thin and about 6 inches in diameter. In order to keep them somewhat circular, I would recommend rolling in one direction and then rotating the tortilla a quarter turn — repeat rolling and turning a quarter turn until done.
5. Place tortilla in the dry skillet and let cook until just barely “spotty golden” on one side. I like to spin them around a few times so they cook evenly. When spotty golden, flip the tortilla and cook a bit more (about one minute per side — but this is like pancakes, it will take a couple of tortillas to get your heat regulated and the tortillas cooking perfectly).
6. When the first tortilla is done, wrap it in a clean kitchen towel. Repeat the rolling and cooking until all the dough is gone, stacking the finished tortillas in the towel. It seems like it will take forever, but it really starts to go quickly when you can get one tortilla rolled while another one is cooking. (It’s also a great two person job…) Keep them wrapped tightly in the kitchen towel and use within a few hours. If you want, you can reheat them lightly before serving.