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AlainV

Making Tortillas at Home

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Does anyone know what the perfect thickness dimension should be?  My press is kinda large (25 ton) and I can set the thickness.  I just love multi-purpose tools.

Around 3mm which is just below 1/8 inch. This is for the normal sized one. With that sort of equipment if you decide to do a bigger one, you might need a thicker tortilla (I'd love to see the frying pan you'd cook a really big one in and how you'd turn it :wink: )

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Latest update.

When putting the tortilla on the pan, I've found that to keep it flat, it is better to use a sweeping motion level with the cooking surface. Problem is that my cast-iron frying pan has about 2-inch sloped sides. Anyone who cooks can see what's coming...

burnt wrists!

After a number of burns on my wrist due to miscalculated drops, I've invested in a comal (you can see one in the excellent instructional pictorial provided above by Jmahl). Smart people these South Americans [edited in light of Jmahl's comment below], they've made a cooking instrument ideally suited to the task! I even got it for $9.95 here in Australia (from this company for any Australians who might be interested). US based people could be able to get it for even less.

Now to those enchilada cook-off recipes...


Edited by nickrey (log)

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Latest update.

When putting the tortilla on the pan, I've found that to keep it flat, it is better to use a sweeping motion level with the cooking surface. Problem is that my cast-iron frying pan has about 2-inch sloped sides. Anyone who cooks can see what's coming...

burnt wrists!

After a number of burns on my wrist due to miscalculated drops, I've invested in a comal (you can see one in the excellent instructional pictorial provided above by Jmahl). Smart people these Mexicans, they've made a cooking instrument ideally suited to the task! I even got it for $9.95 here in Australia (from this company for any Australians who might be interested). US based people could be able to get it for even less.

Now to those enchilada cook-off recipes...

Thanks for the complement but our comal was made in Columbia - actually any rimless cast-iron griddle will do.

Jmahl

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Hi all,

Nice thread. Just a couple of questions. Jmahl, do you mean Colombia or actually Columbia? Is it Pico de Gallo that you put on your quesdaillas? Just trying to be sure. Sounds great! Thanks for the tutorial!

Best

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Hi all,

Nice thread. Just a couple of questions.  Jmahl, do you mean Colombia or actually Columbia? Is it Pico de Gallo that you put on your quesdaillas?  Just trying to be sure.  Sounds great!  Thanks for the tutorial!

Best

Thanks for pointing that out. Yes our parilla was made in the Republic of Columbia. As to toppings, I checked with the expert, top your quesadillas with hot salsa or Pico de Gallo or whatever else you like to give it a little fire.

Jmahl

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living in an asian country we dont get the flour here used to make tortillas the traditional way. anyone know how to make them using all purpose flour?

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living in an asian country we dont get the flour here used to make tortillas the traditional way. anyone know how to make them using all purpose flour?

Flour, yes. I don't think you could get maseca-type cornmeal easily in Asia. The yellow American-style cornmeal just won't do.

I'll post a recipe off the back of a flour bag when I get home. (I'm a corn tortilla guy).

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1 kg AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 Tsp salt

200 g lard or vegetable shortening

Hot water (as necessary for kneading)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, manually incorporate the dry ingredients and the lard or shortening.

Gradually pour hot water into the bowl and knead until you achieve a homogenous, elastic dough.

Allow the dough to rest for an hour. Then, divide into individual portions and form these into balls.

On a clean, dry surface, spread some flour and extend each one of the dough balls with a rolling pin.

Heat the griddle evenly to medium-high temperature to cook the tortillas. Turn the first time when the top side starts to look slightly cooked. Turn again when it starts to look brown and a third and last time when the tortilla looks completely cooked.

Recipe is from the back of a bag of Paloma Blanca AP flour. Translation is all mine.

NOTES: Not too enthusiastic on the whole rolling pin thing, in my house we always used a tortilla press. Also, I remember putting the dough balls between two pieces of wax paper to keep them from sticking to the press. You could try that.

Also, I don't think all AP flour is the same? I remember something about "soft" and "hard" wheat from some TV cooking show (Alton Brown?).

EDIT: Just in case it's not clear, I haven't made these since I was a kid. I like corn. So, don't shoot the messenger if they don't come out right, OK?


Edited by Dakki (log)

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I would really like to learn how to make tortillas that I saw made in Mexico. I've never had anything like them before or since. They had no resemblance to the thin wafers made either with corn or flour.

I had them in a very touristy hotel near Chichen Itza. The sort of place with a big open air dining room. Some kids were practicing dancing with beer bottles on their heads with their dance teacher for the evening's performance. For lunch there was a buffet with various hot stews to put in the tortillas.

There was a woman sitting down making and cooking tortillas. She had a bowl of corn dough and she formed balls, which she flattened out and then passed from hand to hand, stretching them. The resultant tortilla was small and relatively thick. The patty was slapped onto the wall of a hot wok-like pot, so that there were about six of these cooking at once. You waited for them to cook, she put as many as you wanted on your plate, and then you were free to eat until you exploded.

Which was quite easy to do, because they were moist and corny tasting, with some burnt areas that added extra flavor, and the pork stew was superb. One right after another.

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I like both corn tortillas and wheat flour tortillas, and have made both from scratch many times, even going so far as to nixtamalize the corn and grind it into masa myself, but growing up with Mexican relatives from northern Mexico and Texas led to many more wheat flour tortilla experiences. I've tried many of them, and the best I've had are home made using a recipe from Rick Bayless's Authentic Mexican.

There are only four ingredients:

AP Flour (I use King Arthur)

Hot Water (I use a little more than the Bayless recipe calls for--1 full cup)

Lard/Shortening

Salt

Here is the recipe online.

They are the best tasting and best textured tortillas I've ever had, hands down. Using bacon fat in place of the standard lard pushes them right over the edge into sublime.

On the other hand, my mom always made tortillas with baking powder, but I really feel that the texture suffers for it. If you the proportion of ingredients just right and use a high heat to cook them, they'll puff up naturally just like some unleavened Indian flat breads do.

Man are they good!

[Edited to add ingredient specifics and recipe.]

Best,


Edited by A Patric (log)

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There was a woman sitting down making and cooking tortillas. She had a bowl of corn dough and she formed balls, which she flattened out and then passed from hand to hand, stretching them. The resultant tortilla was small and relatively thick. The patty was slapped onto the wall of a hot wok-like pot, so that there were about six of these cooking at once.

That's how the housekeeper we had when I was a kid taught me to make them. She always claimed they were ten times as good as regular, tortilla press tortillas but in retrospect I suspect she just gave me a task that would keep me quiet and in sight.

You don't see these a lot because they're fairly labor-intensive to make compared to using a tortilla press.

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Here's the recipe I referenced above from my fantastic MIL, Susan Castañeda, whose voice comes though in this recipe. It's been delarded; feel free to sub in lard for shortening. This recipe has been tried and true for over 30 years.

Combine:

6 1/4 c AP flour

4 t baking powder

2 t salt

Cut in 1/2 c plus 2 T shortening (lard). Gradually add 2-2 1/2 c buttermilk until you have a pliable but firm dough. Knead 3-5 minutes.

Shape into a pile of golf-ball sized spheres and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Rest for 15-20 minutes while you heat your comal.

"Roll, roll, roll until you sweat": one at a time, roll out the tortilla and, working quickly, transport to hot comal. When tortilla is just picking up slightly tan spots on one side, turn it over (30-45 seconds depending); let it cook another 20-30 seconds on the second side and remove to a plate. Cover cooked tortillas with dry towel as you go.

"Serve with peanut butter and tequila."

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Just a quick note here that AP flour varies regionally in the US. In the South it's closer to cake flour because of the high demand for biscuits, in the North it's closer to pastry/bread flour because it's used for more kneaded breads. The labels won't tell you what you have, you have to test it yourself.

I don't know much about the rest of the world, but, if the packaging gives a % protein content, you can check this chart.

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Here is the recipe I have used for nearly 40 years. Authentic flour tortillas do not contain baking powder.

Tortillas de harina

4 c flour

2 tea salt

6 T lard

1 to 1 1/4 c lukewarm water

Sift flour and salt and work in shortening. Gradually add water to form a ball; knead until smooth and form into balls about the size of small eggs. Cover and let rest about 15 min. Roll or pat out. Place on medium-hot comal (ungreased iron pan)and cook about 2 minutes on 1 side; flip and cook about another minute on the other,lightly "tickling" it with your fingers to encourage it to puff up. Remove to a plate and cover.

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Just a quick note here that AP flour varies regionally in the US. In the South it's closer to cake flour because of the high demand for biscuits, in the North it's closer to pastry/bread flour because it's used for more kneaded breads. The labels won't tell you what you have, you have to test it yourself.

I don't know much about the rest of the world, but, if the packaging gives a % protein content, you can check this chart.

That chart looks a lot like the one from Shirley Corriher's Cookwise. Her section on flours and protein content helped me when I started baking because I had always thought all AP was the same.

Does anyone know where typical Mexican flour lands on the protein scale?

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Authentic flour tortillas do not contain baking powder.

More importantly, tortillas without baking powder are just better.

I really suggest to people to try figuring out how to make them well without the baking powder. Yes, it will take practice, but you will absolutely not be sorry.

And yes, I am repeating myself, but if only one person here makes the transition, and experiences what an amazing thing the powder-free tortillas can be, then it was worth it.

The Bayless recipe is really just spot on as long as one adjusts water volume to balance the gluten content of the AP flour.

Now I´ll shut my yapper. :wink:

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Okay, dumb questions from a tortilla beginner:

Masa, maseca, masa harina, and corn flour. How do they differ? Or do they? Masa is a fresh product, right? But is there any difference between maseca, masa harina, and corn flour (not corn meal or corn starch)? I'm bringing a small selection of Mexican ingredients and a copy of Kennedy back to China with me this fall for my winter cooking projects.

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Masa = Dough ie: Masa para pasteles is pastry dough.

Masa harina = Dough Flour usually 'Trigo' or wheat...

Masa harina de maiz = Corn flour for dough (also name of a Quaker product)

Maseca = One of the oldest brands of corn flour. They have two main lines 'para tortillas' and 'para tamales'

Good Luck!

Bonus:

and salsa = sauce ie. salsa holandesa or hollandaise sauce!

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Thanks! So in any recipe that calls for "Maseca", I can use corn flour (non-Maseca brand)? I only ask because we don't have a Latin American grocery handy, and I'm shopping from a health foods store with bulk bins.

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You might want to call your local big box grocery store, Maseca is pretty common. I have never tried regual corn flour, so I don't know if it would work or not. The corn flour for tortillas or tamales have been treated with lye (nixtamal) before being ground and dried.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixtamalization

You could also call Bob's Red Mill and ask them if you don't get an answer here, they make a corn flour.

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Masa is Spanish for dough, but in this situation it usually means the hydrated, limed, ground corn that you use for corn tortillas. (Whole corn that has been limed is called nixtamal.)

Maseca is a corporation that makes corn tortillas, masa harina, and other stuff.

Masa harina is the corn flour that you use to make masa/dough, hence the name (harina is Spanish for flour).

Corn flour is a category of products that include masa harina. However, most "corn flours" in the US and Europe, AFAIK, do not include limed corn, the key step to creating nixtamal, the basis for Mexican masa (and thus masa harina). In addition, in the US, corn flour does not mean corn starch, but I've seen corn starch from other places labeled as "corn flour."

So:

Masa can be made from masa harina (which is a type of corn flour) or from nixtamal.

Maseca makes a brand of masa harina.

Most corn flour isn't limed, but masa harina is.

Phew. I think that's more or less right.


Edited by Chris Amirault paren on nixtamal (log)

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Okay, so I need either something labelled "masa harina" or "Maseca"-brand, then. Useful information, this.

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