There are different techniques for making tortillas


Tortillas are plentiful as can be around here, but that hasn’t always been the case. Every big grocer has a section devoted to them, and you can get them in most of the tiendas, which have become so ubiquitous.

It wasn’t so long ago our stores offered some boxed taco kits from a major U.S. manufacturer, and that was it. We now enjoy a pretty good supply of Latino ingredients from many sources.

Just as I have been making my own flatbreads, pita and bagels for a while, I’ve also learned to make flour tortillas at home, which are amazingly good. While many breads are a little tricky to master, I got my tortillas right on the first try.

Just as there are as many recipes for marinara as there are cooks, you’ll find a lot of different formulas and techniques for making tortillas. Many use masa flour, and baking powder is a pretty common element.

You don’t need any special equipment to make your own flour tortillas, and you probably have everything you need. While the corn version usually employs a tortilla press, flour tortillas are rolled out thinly with an ordinary rolling pin. Having made a few batches, I can tell you the trick is to roll them out quite thin — thin enough to almost see light through them.

The second batch I made was a bit too thick, and while they were fine and tasted great, they weren’t as perfect as the first go-round. That thinness translates to a good bubbly puff while cooking, after which they collapse into the thin flat rounds you expect, giving you fluffy, soft, paper-thin layers.

These are cooked in a dry pan on top of the stove over medium heat. Once you toss them into the pan (I used an ordinary nonstick skillet), you flip them over and over a few times as they form browned bubbles. When they look right, take them off to cool. I cooled mine on a rack as stacking them made for a pretty picture but they steamed themselves together.

Once you have a batch made and cooled, you can save them to fill with whatever you like or cut them into triangles to fry in hot oil to make tortilla chips, which are fresher and more tasty than the $6 half-filled bag from the store.

Once the dough is made, there’s little time or effort involved. You can easily make a couple dozen tortillas and not miss what’s happening on TV.


4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 stick butter, salted or unsalted but not margarine

1 1/3 cups boiling water, divided

Cut the butter into small cubes. Pour 1 cup of boiling water into a large measuring cup and add the butter, allowing it to melt.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. When the water/butter is cool enough to touch, add it to the flour mixture and begin to mix all together. If the water is still a bit hot, rubber gloves will help insulate your hands. Once the mixture begins to come together, add the remaining 1/3 cup water and mix until a ball forms.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Don’t skimp here and watch the clock to make sure. This helps to ensure proper cooking later. Let the dough rest, covered, for 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into 20-24 1 1/2 inch balls. Cover and rest again 15 minutes. Then roll each ball into a thin round about 10 inches across while heating your pan.

Place the rounds, one at a time, into the hot pan. As soon as you see the color bleaching and small bubbles forming, about 1 minute, flip it over. Watch for bubbles again and flip it again. Keep doing this until it has browned blotches and looks as you desire. Cool separately and store in an airtight bag. They should stay fresh for about 4 or 5 days.

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