My Food Storage Deals: Tortilla Trauma!

Tortilla Trauma!

>> Thursday, April 8, 2010

(My version of Costco's uncooked tortillas--I have a LONG ways to go!!)

Do you love the new trend of the uncooked tortillas? Where have these been all my life? They are FAR superior to a precooked, dried out tortilla. The fact you can make them right before you eat dinner and have warm tortillas off the griddle in seconds is the next best thing to sliced bread!! The ONLY downfall is how expensive they are! It is hard to get a package of regular tortillas on sale for .77, verses the $3-$4 a package for the uncooked tortillas. For now, this is something I will splurge on, but in the case of an emergency or time I have to live off of my food storage, I think I will need an alternative.

Tortillas really are a great item to have the capability of making from your food storage. They would work great for wraps for lunches, be used in enchiladas, soups, burritos, and can even be used in desserts (they are great buttered with cinnamon and sugar or with a cream cheese filling and fruit inside). The other great thing about learning to make your own tortillas is that they can be made without a leavening agent (like yeast) and you wouldn't need to bake them in the oven if your power was out. They can be cooked on the grill or in a pan over a camping stove.

Now to my dilemma! I have not mastered tortilla making yet and it is driving me crazy! I am posting the recipe I have been using (it seems to be a pretty basic recipe I see out in the blog world), but I can not get them to work. They are either too thick, too dry, too doughy, or too ugly. You name it and I have had a something go wrong. My tortillas are more like saltine crackers than they are a soft, warm tortilla.

I need your help! If you know the secret to making a soft, thin, and heavenly tortilla, will you please share your knowledge with me? ANY tips or tricks would be helpful for me--just leave a comment or email me at THANKS!! In the mean time, here is my sub-par tortilla recipe:

Homemade Flour Tortillas
2 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
3 T. shortening

Mix together with enough water to make a stiff dough. Roll dough VERY thin and fry on hot skillet.

(My dough in a food processor)

(My dough balls that were uneven and dry)

(My million dollar tortilla smasher that I bought off of Ebay that doesn't work!!)

(My not-so-cute tortilla cooking on my grill)

Thank you in advance for your help with my tortilla dilemma :)


Sarah April 8, 2010 at 11:25 PM  

Your proportions look a bit off to me and the baking powder isn't authentic or necessary.

My recipe makes 8.

2 cups flour (fresh all-purpose)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup warm water
1 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, then turn the dough out onto the counter and knead the dough for about a minute. This isn't like making bread and a minute of kneading is plenty.

Divide the dough into eight rounded balls.

Heat up a heavy frying pan over medium heat. The heavier the pan the easier they are. If you have a cast iron fry pan it is ideal for making tortillas.

OPTION #1: Sprinkle some flour onto the counter and roll out each ball of dough into a flat circle about 6 inches in diameter. If the dough is sticking to the table, just add more flour. Rotating the circle around as you're rolling it out can help you get that nice circular shape, but it really just takes practice; and they'll taste great even if they're not perfectly circular.

OPTION #2: Tortilla Press w/wax paper or parchment.

OPTION #3: Place ball of dough on top of parchment circle. Cover with another piece of parchment. Smash thin with cold cast iron pan, pot or other circular object.

If you use option #1...Take a clean cloth and dust off any flour that's adhered to the tortilla.

Place tortilla onto the warm frying pan. You don't need to add any oil to the pan, they won't stick.

When you see bubbles popping up all over the top of the tortilla, it's done.

Take it off the heat and wrap in a clean dishtowel as you repeat the process.

You don't need to cook the tortillas on both sides as they're so thin (if you got them thin enough) they'll cook through from the bottom. Cooking on only one side will actually make a better tortilla.

Don't get discouraged if you're tortillas look funny, by the second or third batch you do you'll be a seasoned pro; and the whole process won't take more than about 20 minutes.

Wendy April 9, 2010 at 10:23 AM  

I have finally mastered tortillas. There are a couple tricks that I learned that have made them 1000 times better.
Here is the recipe I can be made with all white flour exactly the same but I love the whole wheat.
1 cup all purpose flour
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup shortening or lard (I have also substituted oil and it works great)
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Stir together the flours and salt. Rub in the shortening by hand until the mixture is the texture of cornmeal. Make a well in the center and pour in the boiling water. Mix with a fork until the water is all incorporated and the dough does not stick to your fingers. The dough should be smooth and soft (almost a little greasy feeling). Make balls the size of golf balls and place them on a tray. Wet a couple paper towels and wring them out really well, then drape them over the balls and cover it all with a cloth (because the air is dry here in Utah, the wet paper towels are necessary--re-wet them occasionally if you need to) Let the balls stand for at least an hour or up to 8 hours (the longer the better in my opinion).
Heat your frying pan over high heat. Roll out the tortillas. Place on griddle for 10 seconds, and as soon as you see a bubble flip it over. Cook approximately 30 seconds and flip again. It shouldn't be on the griddle for any more than about a minute or they will get tough. It will make about 18 tortillas and they freeze GREAT.
The real key is the shortening/oil and the resting time. Experiment with different amounts of shortening, anywhere from 3/4 cup to 1 1/4 cups until you have them the way you want them (but don't change the amount of flour)
The dough is soft and it rolls out very easily--they can get super thin and I can even generally get them round with a rolling pin.
Good luck!

Nancy April 9, 2010 at 10:43 AM  

I saw your post this morning earlier and then came across this just now, isn't blogland crazy like that? Hopefully this helps! If you do find a fabulous recipe I'd love to have it.

thecannon5 April 9, 2010 at 11:07 AM  

So I haven't tried these recipes, but I think I just might. My hubby grew up eating burritos for almost every meal, He LOVES them. So I hope these will help.

Caroline April 9, 2010 at 12:12 PM  

I agree with Sarah, my first thought was that your shortening was way off. I don't have my recipe with me, but it looks like Sarah's. I don't use baking powder either. I also got a tortilla press, hoping it would work well, but it doesn't. I still do mine by hand, because the press doesn't get it thin enough. I still don't get nice round tortillas, but that's part of the authentic homemade feel, right?! I also substitute whole wheat (usually half and half) and oil for my shortening all the time as well as use my food processor and it still works well.

Also, if you're interested in spinach tortillas, just shred some raw baby spinach leaves in your processor first, then made the recipe as normal adding more water as necessary for the right consistency. It worked well for me and the kids love the green tortillas! :)

Mandy Finlinson April 9, 2010 at 1:02 PM  

My brother just got back from a Spanish-speaking mission, and I was talking to him about the tortilla presses. He tells me that the tortilla presses only work well with corn tortillas and that even authentic Mexicans don't roll round flour tortillas! So there you have it, yours look authentic!

Anonymous April 9, 2010 at 1:43 PM  

I have an easy recipe that I got from Crystal at It is really easy. I think that your problem is too much baking powder. And yes, I agree, you only use a press for corn tortillas.

Here's the recipe:

2 cups flour (your choice of all white or half white/half whole wheat)
1/4 cup oil (I use canola)
1/4 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cups hot water

Process in food processor until it turns into a big ball. Take it out and cover it with a wet paper towel. Now here's where my recipe differs from Crystal's. She says to let it rest for an hour and then roll it into 5 balls. I don't do that, I just get right to work on them. Sure they're sticky, I just add a little flour and they're fine. I roll them into 6 balls (about golf ball sized) and then cover them with a very damp paper towel. I then flour my pizza peel and use that to roll out the tortillas using a wooden dowel. I usually have to add a tad more flour to keep them from being sticky. I get an assembly line going, by heating each in a hot (but not oiled)teflon frying pan. I find the pans with a more slanted side to be easier to flip the tortillas. I roll the next one as the first is cooking. I actually cook mine a bit longer than most people because we like the slight browning.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll get it down in no time.

TM Frugal Gourmet April 12, 2010 at 11:49 AM  

I am going to try the two other recipes with out baking powder in them. True tortillas do NOT contain any leavening (baking powder or yeast). I agree though that you need more shorting or lard in your recipe. I too use WW flour in my tortillas. Keep it up, you're doing a GREAT JOB!!

Anonymous April 14, 2010 at 8:12 AM  

I have followed a blog Married to a Mexican that may be able to assist you in your quest! Here is a link to her homemade flour tortillas, good luck!

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