Friday, May 4, 2012

Homemade Tortillas -- Just in Time for Cinco De Mayo!

I've purchased my fair share of tortillas.  They're always uniform in size and shape, and have the same non-descript flavor.  Which is fine.  But if you're making a meal that you want to taste authentic, you really should make your own tortillas!  They are easy to make, require only a few ingredients, and taste a hundred times better than the store-bought variety.  Even something as simple as a bean burrito tastes like a masterpiece when made with homemade tortillas.  Give them a try.  And this recipe is easily doubled or tripled if you're feeding a crowd!

Homemade Flour Tortillas
Recipe by my mother-in-law, Ruth Beal

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup milk
Cooking spray

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.  Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until the shortening is evenly distributed and can almost not be seen.  Add the milk and stir until a dough forms and leaves the sides of the bowl.

Turn onto a clean countertop and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and even.  Form into a ball and spray with cooking spray.  Cover and let rest for at least 15 minutes, or up to 3 hours.

Turn the oven to warm (170F) and prepare a plate lined with two cloth napkins, paper towels, or something similar.   Put the plate in the oven to keep the completed tortillas warm while the rest are cooking.

Divide dough into 6-10 even pieces, depending on the size of the tortillas you want (I usually divide mine into 8).  Roll each piece into a circle (that's the hard part!  Mine are never even, but that's okay, that's part of the charm).  If you need to, you can use a little flour, but I usually find it's not necessary.  The rolled out dough should be very thin, almost translucent, because it will shrink up some when you move it.   Place the completed unbaked tortillas on a plate on top of each other.  They shouldn't stick together, so don't worry about that.

Heat a griddle or large frying pan to medium or medium-high heat (around 350F if you're using an electric griddle).  Place one tortilla on the ungreased pan and let cook until the bottom has some brown spots and it getting a slight crust, about a minute.  Flip over and cook on the other side.  The tortillas should puff up a bit, but don't push them down.  They'll deflate when they're done cooking, and they'll cook just fine.

When your tortilla is done cooking, quickly place it in the warm oven between the two napkins.  Continue baking the remaining tortillas.  Serve warm.

Leftover tortillas can be stored for several days in a Ziplock bag or airtight container, or in the fridge for a week.  They'll taste better if they're warmed slightly before eating. I usually microwave them for 20-30 seconds or reheat them on a griddle.

Makes 6-10 tortillas.

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