Learning to make common things you buy at the grocery store at home is both rewarding and demystifying. The other effect is that you can often make something that tastes so much better. Items sitting on shelves in the grocery store have to be able to sit there for a long time. This means they have to have chemicals, preservatives, and other things done to them to keep them “looking good” for extended periods of time.
Making something at home is all about fresh, taste, and personalization. Beet tortillas? Saffron Tortillas? Tortillas made with lard? Tortillas made with oils? Rye or Buckwheat Tortillas? You would never find this in the grocery store but in your kitchen a little guidance and you imagination are the only limitations. It wasn’t until working through Tacos: Recipes and Provocations that I learned just how fun and easy this can be.
To start it’s best to go with the basics. Corn Tortillas and Flour Tortillas. Once you understand the basics you learn what can be changed, what can be tweaked, and what is essential. The thing I love about homemade tortillas is that they are quick and easy. Being someone who has done a lot of yeast doughs I love the simplicity of tortillas. There are minimal ingredients, as little as two, and there is no waiting. I will say from personal experience for the flour tortillas it’s way easier with two people. One to roll them out and one to cook them.
To make a flour tortilla all you need is:
- 544 grams All-purpose Flour
- 104 grams of Lard
- 1 teaspoon of Salt
You’ll also need a rolling pin and ideally a cast-iron pan but any fry pan can work.
Start by adding the lard to the flour and salt. Blend until it’s mealy. You can do this with your hands, a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a pastry cutter. Once the lard is worked in, slowly add 1 cup of water. Once the dough is coming together you can turn it out and knead it by hand or if in a mixer switch to the dough hook and knead for a couple minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and cover with a damp paper towel.
Roll each portion into a ball, press down with the heal of your palm, and then using a rolling pin roll into a 8 inch circle. I like to lift and rotate the dough 90º with every pass of the rolling pin. This allows me to ensure the tortilla is not sticking to the counter.
Heat your cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Once hot place the tortilla in the pan. It will begin to bubble and puff. This is what you want. With tongs gently lift the edge of the tortilla and look underneath. Once you have the coloring on it you like flip it over. I press mine down “popping” some of the air bubbles but you don’t have to. Each side should be less than a minute.
Place on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Repeat, stacking the tortillas as they finish, keeping them covered. Eat warm or let cool and place in a ziplock bag and store in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave when you are ready to use. Eat immediately after being rewarmed.