Flour tortillas are the staple of almost every house in the north of Mexico. Unlike the south and center of the country where corn tortillas are more popular, flour tortillas in the north are eaten almost as often as corn tortillas and are specially good for breakfast tacos or with the traditional sunday barbacoa.
During my childhood my mom made them almost once a week and she would often receive a lot of compliments on her recipe, I remember playing with the dough as it was play-doh and making small tiny tortillas that she would then cook on the “comal”. They are made with just a few simple ingredients but they do require a little bit of patience. Here is the way my mom used to make them, give them a try. Believe me they are well worth the extra time and they are also fun to make. This recipe will yield about 24-30 tortillas depending on the size.
– 1 kg of regular flour (basically the standard 2 lb. package for flour, yes you wont even need to measure just dump it all in!)
– 1 1/2 tbsp of salt
– 1 tsp tbsp of baking powder
– 200 grams of shortening or white lard (traditionally my mom would use “manteca inca” which is a shortening/lard mix but either of them would be fine)
– About 3 cups of very hot water
Is important that you find a bowl big enough for you to knead the dough in there so you don’t end up with a messy counter. Start by mixing flour, salt and baking powder. Then add the lard or shortening and mix using your hands until you don’t see any clumps.
Meanwhile bring your water to a boil and then turn off the heat, water should be very hot but not boiling.
Once all your dry ingredients and shortening are mixed, start adding the water about 1/2 cup at the time.
Make a well in the center and then mix with a spoon or a fork, remember this will be very hot! Once you become an expert like my mom you may go at it with bare hands. Separate the dough from the loose flour and keep making a well and adding more water until is all uniform. You may need less water so keep checking, you don’t want a sticky dough neither a dry one. It wont really become uniform until you knead it so you need to look for consistency.
Knead it for about 5 minutes until you have a uniform elastic dough that is easy to handle
Then we are going to make the “testales” or the small portions that will eventually become the tortillas. My mom would separate all the dough first into balls making sure they are all the same size. She makes this by pressing the dough into her hand until she has all the portions separated. While you do this you want to make sure you let the dough rest in the process. So for the next step start with the ball that you did first and so on so you have a uniform consistency.
Once you have all the balls formed you can let them rest for a little bit while you clean or do something else… like play candy crush or post some pictures on instagram to show everyone you’re making homemade tortillas.
Now you will form the “testales”. You need to take a ball and push all the edges underneath turning it around while you do it. This process according to my mom is like an extra knead to every portion and is also important for the elasticity of the dough. So you are not only looking to form it into shape but also making sure the dough gets elastic. When you are done your testal will have a top and a bottom where you can see all the edges pulled in together.
Once you have all the testales done they need to rest for about 30 mins. to an hour. The more they rest the better.
My mom would also usually store the leftover tortillas as testales in the fridge so you could roll them and cook them when you would want a tortilla again.
Once they have rested you will need to roll them out into a circle. Be patient with this process, believe me map shaped tortillas will taste as good as a perfect circle tortilla so don’t get frustrated.
Make sure your comal or skillet is hot, you need high heat slightly higher than the heat needed to make pancakes.
When you put it in the skillet you will have to wait just a few seconds until you see a few bubbles, then you turn the tortilla and wait until the other side has developed some golden brown spots (if it burns too quickly turn down the heat, if takes too long turn it up). Keep moving it around so it has an even color. Then make a final turn and here is where you would want the tortilla to inflate, don’t tear it. You want the air to cook the inside of the tortilla. Also be careful because that air is very very hot.
Once you cook them you can keep them warm inside a kitchen towel.
My favorite way to eat them is just with some very very good butter and roll them up.
buen provecho : )