This was a guest post over with Deena at the Stay At Home Foodie with a post about making your own tortillas. Deena did a wonderful series on recipes to get kids cooking in the kitchen this summer, and posted a bunch of great ones you should all check out whether you have kids or not.
If I’m being honest, I chose tortillas mostly because I’d just bought a tortilla press and wanted to use my newest kitchen toy. But I also thought the press would be a lot of fun for young kids – and easier than rolling out dough. Natalie is 6 years old, and already a big help in the kitchen, but rolling out dough can be frustrating when your hands are so small, and the rolling pin so big. And I don’t have to be clairvoyant to imagine Grant and Glen having a sword fight with the rolling pins.
Tortillas are really just a simple un-yeasted bread, and have been around for hundreds of years. Tortillas are typically made with either masa harina, which is ground cornmeal from dried corn kernels cooked and soaked in limewater (not to be confused, ever, with cornmeal), or made with a wheat-based flour. I like ones made with masa harina, but I opted for flour, and wanted them a little thicker than usual so I could use them as a bread option at dinner. This is a family who loves bread.
It all seemed like it would be so easy. But if you research making tortillas with tortilla presses, which I did not, everything you read will opine strongly that tortilla presses are for making corn tortillas and ONLY corn tortillas; flour tortillas must be rolled out. And I can now speak from personal experience as to why: the flour-based dough will be gooey and stick to any and all surfaces it even briefly comes into contact with and become glue. Never one to be swayed from my path by the first bump in the road, I decided I would experiment.
I tried putting the ball of dough between both wax paper and foil, which looked terrific until I tried to peel off said wax paper and foil. None of the dough could be saved and I had to throw that batch away.
So I floured the wax paper on the next batch. It slipped all over the dough, and in the end made no difference.
With my third batch, I floured the dough before pressing without the wax paper. Worse. Much, much worse.
Not easily deterred when I’m up against a challenge, I persevered on. I was not going to be defeated by a simple ball of dough that I just needed to flatten! On my fourth batch, I finally hit on the solution of pressing the dough between wax paper and then freezing for one hour. At that point, the tortillas were firm enough to easily peel the wax paper off without becoming a gooey mess, but not too brittle. The result was a terrific flour tortilla that’s perfect for kids to make in the kitchen with a tortilla press – I can’t wait to do this with them on their next visit! I hope you try them too
Homemade Flour Tortillas
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 2/3 cup warm milk (I used 1% milk with great success)
Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
Add the olive oil and rub the flour and olive oil together between your fingers until the olive oil is broken down into small pieces about 1/16” in size.
Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour the warm milk in. Using a fork, stir the flour into the well. Continue to stir until a large ball of dough forms.
Lightly flour a work-space and place the dough on it. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle a little flour on top, and knead until the dough is soft. It shouldn’t take more than 15 – 20 kneading motions.
Cover the dough with a sheet of plastic or a towel, and allow the dough to rest for at least 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into 8 sections and roll each section into a small ball about the size of a medium egg. Open up the clam shell of the tortilla press, and place a small sheet of wax paper on the surface of the tortilla press, and place the ball of dough on top. Place another sheet of wax paper on top of the dough, and fold the clamshell of the tortilla press down, using the lever. Open up the clamshell and turn the flattened dough 180 degrees, and fold the clamshell over it again, pressing down. Repeat with the other seven balls of dough, and place flat in the freezer for one hour, or until the wax paper can be easily removed.
Heat up a griddle over medium high heat. Pour a little olive oil on the griddle and spread it over the surface of the griddle with a paper towel. Place the tortillas on the griddle for 2 – 3 minutes, or until there are some lightly browned spots on the tortilla surface. It’s normal for the tortilla to bubble up a bit. Flip it over and cook for another minute.
Serve warm with some butter or olive oil for dipping.