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Making Tortillas at Home

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164 replies to this topic

#61 mkayahara

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 05:37 PM

Thanks, Brian, that's great input. I used about 1.25 cups of water to 200 grams (a little under 1.5 cups) of masa harina. The dough was definitely not sticky, so I suspect I need to add more water. As for the cast iron pan, it was definitely smoking up the place - it even set the smoke detector off. I wonder if I'd be better off using stainless steel?
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#62 LindaK

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 05:58 PM

Ditto everything Brian said. I too have been surprised at the high masa/water ratio I need to be successful in getting the tortillas to puff. Always more than any written recipe directs. Experienced tortilla makers, why is this?

The other success factor for me has been getting the correct pan temperature. Finding the right heat level is one of those things you must play with, so much depends on your stove and your pan. As with crepes (for me, anyway, a good analogy) the first one or two are usually discards. But once you figure it out for your pan/stove, you've got it.

Finally, I've noticed that that tortillas puff after their second flip or (for me) they don't puff at all. Many flips don't help, they just make the tortillas tough and stiff.


 


#63 Trev

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 04:35 AM

I've only been making tortillas for a couple years but I seldom get them to puff up. Still, they are cooked through and not burnt. I always use a dry cast iron pan on a med-high heat and I just adjust to keep it below the smoking point. I'm going to have to try to use a little more water in my mix and see if I can improve on my existing mix. I also need to lay them in the pan more gently because I sometimes get the spots that were mentioned earlier as a result of them not being rolled onto the griddle slowly.
I'm leaving for Mexico on Tuesday and I'm hoping to have time to stop at the local tortilleria and check out their mix, if they'll show me. I'm sure they have lots of helpful tips too, if I ask the right questions.
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#64 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 05:09 AM

Does anyone who makes tortillas from nixtamal get them to puff up? I sure don't.
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#65 Okanagancook

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 08:32 AM

All this talk of tortillas gave me a hankering for some so here is what I did:

300 grams Maseca instant corn masa mix
400 grams hot water
a pinch of salt

Used a 6 1/4 inch iron "Myco Kitchen" press

Weighed each tortilla to 37 grams then pressed to 5 1/4 inch tortillas (pressed lightly then turned 1/4 turn four times to even out the dough)
Cooked on medium high heat (Wolf gas stove) in a dry Cephalon fry pan: 30 sec, flip and cook 60 seconds, flip and cook 30 seconds and I found that pressing on the edges with my forefingers helped the tortillas puff. Made 17 tortillas with the first two not as good as the rest...like crepes.

They puffed consistently but not has high as the demo...maybe more water next time.
Sorry no pics.

#66 mkayahara

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 11:26 AM

I was in Toronto yesterday and today, so while I was there, I hit La Perola and bought myself a brand new cast-iron tortilla press. Looks like I now have to get serious about this, to justify the expenditure!
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#67 poppalarge

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 11:54 AM

This is probably obvious but... is the method for using "blue" maseca the same as regular?

I have some blue maseca and some free time tomorrow so i might give it a go. I've not had a great deal of success making tortilla's in the past, i feel I am missing out on the puffing up.

#68 rancho_gordo

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 02:39 PM

I was watching the tortillas puffing away at Itanoni in Oaxaca and asked how they always got such a nice little balloon and they insisted it was based on the correct thinness (very thin) and the hot skillet.
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#69 mkayahara

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 06:05 PM

Second try at making tortillas went much better. I added a lot more water this time: 400g of it to 230g of masa harina. That, combined with the tortilla press, made it a little harder to remove them from the sheets of plastic, but once I got the hang of it, everything went great, and I got significant puffing on most of them. Thanks for all the input here: I feel like I've learned a new skill!
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#70 rancho_gordo

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 02:05 PM

I just found a video I did last year while visiting Boston, for How2Heroes.com.
How 2 Heroes tortillas demo
It's funny. I claim to press twice (and I normally do) but then I don't in the demo. I also notice I don't mention puffing. Oh well, that's show biz!
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#71 cookingofjoy

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 07:40 PM

Nice video! I liked the comment about turning 3 times :)

I've never made tortillas, but the thinness makes sense. When we've made lefse, it has to be very thin, almost translucent/kind of windowpaning-like, to puff. Otherwise it's too thick, and we call it a potato cake instead :) And we only turn it once (though I don't know any hard and fast rules on that!) and it puffs after the flip. Like LindaK mentioned, more flips just makes it tough. I'm going to have to try tortillas here soon!

#72 lmarshal1

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 01:36 PM

Thanks for the tortilla demo. Always look forward to your Rancho Gordo
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#73 Darienne

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 03:35 PM

Made my very first corn tortillas today at my Mexican cooking class. Also made sopas and tostadas. Also burnt my finger on the comal. Great fun.
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#74 lmarshal1

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 05:15 PM

I bought a cast iron tortilla press on Amazon last week and am very pleased with it--perfect circles, thin tortillas. I used a dry cast iron pan to cook the tortillas. No problems with any of this, but I'm wondering about the masa to water ratio and the cooking time. The tortillas peeled right off the plastic. The finished product was tasty enough, good corn smell and taste, but the consistency wasn't pleasing and there was no puffing and little browning (not the usual brown spots here and there). Is it one of those things that just needs some practice? Ideas otherwise? Thanks.

#75 janeer

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 06:45 PM

Made my very first corn tortillas today at my Mexican cooking class. Also made sopas and tostadas. Also burnt my finger on the comal. Great fun.

Do you mean sopes? I love sopes.

#76 Darienne

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 06:54 PM

Do you mean sopes? I love sopes.

We made both.
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#77 Anna N

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 04:55 AM

For the second day in a row I have managed to fill my compost bin with leaden corn tortillas. After my third try this morning I thought I would ask for help from eG.

I have googled countless recipes, watched videos, searched eG for clues and am no further ahead.

I am using Maseca brand masa harina which is newly purchased, a cast aluminum tortilla press and a large cast iron frying pan.

I can mix the dough so that it feels like play dough, I can press out a decent shape and get it as thin as 1/16th inch or stop at 1/8th inch, I have almost mastered the art of laying the disk flat in the pan but there is nary a sign of any puffing up – the very occasional air pocket but nothing more.

Recipes I googled are all over the map – use cold water, use warm water, use boiling water. Let the dough rest, don’t let it rest, knead it for 5 minutes, don’t bother kneading just mix. Cook on high and flip once, cook on moderate and flip twice. Cook for no more than 30 seconds a side, cook for up to two minutes – it goes on and on and on.

My pita bread puffs marvellously and I watch each one in awe as it swells in the oven. My tortillas are like cardboard. What’s the secret that I’m missing?
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#78 GlorifiedRice

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 06:54 AM

I usually pulverize a handful or two of Fritos to add to the Masa, to give the tortillas those flecks
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#79 LindaK

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 08:16 AM

Anna, in my very limited experience, I've found that for my tortillas to puff, the dough needs much more water than is usually indicated in most recipes. Maybe it's not the traditional or correct way to make tortillas but it works for me, so I'm sticking with it.


 


#80 weinoo

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 08:35 AM

I'd have to think it's the heat level of the cooking surface.
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#81 Alcuin

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 09:55 AM

I agree with the slightly more water than you think is necessary recommendation. I use Maseca too, and mix thoroughly with warm water, slightly more than recommended. I don't knead. Then I let rest for about 30 minutes. The dough tends to dry up a bit, and if it does I add more water before balling them up for the press. You can go too far with the water, and they'll be too delicate and tear, so add water little by little. The dough does tend to dry out pretty fast. Then I use a cast iron griddle with two zones: a medium and a medium-high. Start with the medium and cook just until you can freely move it to flip, then flip on to the medium high. Let it go until it starts to brown in spots on the bottom (around 60 seconds maybe), then flip one more time. You should get some puffing, sometimes instantly and sometimes it takes a little longer. Here's a crucial tip: if you flip it and it doesn't puff, try pressing down on it with a spatula in a circular motion for a few seconds. This makes them puff almost every time.

The main things are enough water, two zones at proper heat level (use two pans if you need to), the thickness of the tortilla, and not overbaking them. Also, the tortillas will need to relax and soften up after you cook them for at least 5-10 minutes. Stack them on a plate one on top of the other. The top tortilla will act as the buffer for the others: leave it there and take the ones beneath.
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#82 Anna N

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 10:11 AM

I agree with the slightly more water than you think is necessary recommendation. I use Maseca too, and mix thoroughly with warm water, slightly more than recommended. I don't knead. Then I let rest for about 30 minutes. The dough tends to dry up a bit, and if it does I add more water before balling them up for the press. You can go too far with the water, and they'll be too delicate and tear, so add water little by little. The dough does tend to dry out pretty fast. Then I use a cast iron griddle with two zones: a medium and a medium-high. Start with the medium and cook just until you can freely move it to flip, then flip on to the medium high. Let it go until it starts to brown in spots on the bottom (around 60 seconds maybe), then flip one more time. You should get some puffing, sometimes instantly and sometimes it takes a little longer. Here's a crucial tip: if you flip it and it doesn't puff, try pressing down on it with a spatula in a circular motion for a few seconds. This makes them puff almost every time.

The main things are enough water, two zones at proper heat level (use two pans if you need to), the thickness of the tortilla, and not overbaking them. Also, the tortillas will need to relax and soften up after you cook them for at least 5-10 minutes. Stack them on a plate one on top of the other. The top tortilla will act as the buffer for the others: leave it there and take the ones beneath.


Thank you. I will be trying again either later today or tomorrow. I am determined to master this art.
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#83 andiesenji

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 10:32 AM

I agree that most recipes don't specify enough water.
As I am close to a Mexican supermarket, I usually buy the prepared masa "por tortillas" (they also have the prepared masa for tamales).
However, if mixing my own dough, I mix it the evening before, if I need to cook them early in the day, store it in a tightly sealed plastic bag in the fridge as it seems to work better for me if it is allow to hydrate for several hours.
If I'm cooking them for dinner, I mix the dough in the morning and hold it until ready to form and bake in the afternoon. The dough is slightly sticky and quite pliable, more so than when newly mixed.
My neighbor taught me this method and I have less problems with forming and pressing the tortillas.

I have the comal quite hot - drops of water should "dance" across the surface before the first tortilla is placed on it.
As soon as they are done, I stack them either in a tortilla warmer or on a plate with another plate inverted over the top one.
As mentioned above, they need to "rest" (actually steam a bit from residual heat in the stack) before they are pliable enough to use for wrapping enchilada fillings, etc.
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#84 patrickamory

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 11:18 AM

Incredibly timely - I was just about to post on this topic.

I think this youtube video has been posted here before, showing tortilla making in Oaxaca:



I just got some hominy from Rancho Gordo and was thinking I could make fresh masa for tortillas in my Ultra Pride wet grinder. I think Chris Amirault mentioned he was going to try that at one point - Chris, if you're reading this, did you? Based on the video above, the hominy is soaked in water or perhaps just wetted, then ground, then kneaded and finally pressed?

andie, I'm presuming that the only difference between masa for tortillas and masa for tamales is that the latter has manteca added to it- right? or?

#85 Okanagancook

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 02:05 PM

Anna, here is my recipe which works every time for me:


300 grams Maseca instant corn masa mix
400 grams hot water
a pinch of salt

Used a 6 1/4 inch iron "Myco Kitchen" press

Weighed each tortilla to 37 grams then pressed to 5 1/4 inch tortillas (pressed lightly then turned 1/4 turn four times to even out the dough)
Cooked on medium high heat (Wolf gas stove) in a dry Cephalon fry pan: 30 sec, flip and cook 60 seconds, flip and cook 30 seconds and I found that pressing on the edges helps the tortillas puff.

#86 andiesenji

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 01:05 PM

Incredibly timely - I was just about to post on this topic.

andie, I'm presuming that the only difference between masa for tortillas and masa for tamales is that the latter has manteca added to it- right? or?


Right - I think it also has more salt as to me it tastes saltier. The next time I run down to Vallarta, I will buy both and compare the two visually - in photos - as well as the ingredients label.
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#87 Chris Amirault

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 02:45 PM

I just got some hominy from Rancho Gordo and was thinking I could make fresh masa for tortillas in my Ultra Pride wet grinder. I think Chris Amirault mentioned he was going to try that at one point - Chris, if you're reading this, did you? Based on the video above, the hominy is soaked in water or perhaps just wetted, then ground, then kneaded and finally pressed?


Here's the UltraPride in the fresh masa topic. Note, however, that Rancho Gordo's excellent hominy, a staple in my house for posole, is not an acceptable substitute for the dried corn used in tortillas!
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#88 patrickamory

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 10:24 PM

Thanks Chris, my friend who is an expert on things Mexican just told me the same thing.

So what's a good source for dried nixtamlized corn? Or even corn to nixtamalize myself? :wacko:

#89 Chris Amirault

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 07:04 AM

As far as I know, there's no such thing as dried nixtamalized corn. Once you add the lime, you have a short window to make the masa.

As for finding the dried corn itself, well, I've had to resort to having family members haul back bags of the stuff from Tucson! Steve Sando at Rancho Gordo has tossed around the idea of making it available.... Steve?
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#90 EatNopales

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 02:32 PM

Incredibly timely - I was just about to post on this topic.

I think this youtube video has been posted here before, showing tortilla making in Oaxaca:



I just got some hominy from Rancho Gordo and was thinking I could make fresh masa for tortillas in my Ultra Pride wet grinder. I think Chris Amirault mentioned he was going to try that at one point - Chris, if you're reading this, did you? Based on the video above, the hominy is soaked in water or perhaps just wetted, then ground, then kneaded and finally pressed?

andie, I'm presuming that the only difference between masa for tortillas and masa for tamales is that the latter has manteca added to it- right? or?



No the masa for tamales has a courser grind, for tortillas a finer grind. If you use the manual, hand cracked mill common in Mexican homes... you grind once for typical tamales, twice for most tortillas, three times for extra delicate tortillas.

* Note there are many types of tortillas & tamales with various level of grind... some tamales like Colados are made from the extra fine grind, and not all Tamales have lard (or shortening, or oils in them).. I am just referring to the common style of Tortillas & Tamales known in the U.S.





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