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AlainV

Making Tortillas at Home

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So, I went to the Western Regional food show/Comida Latina and I thought I'd share one of the purveyors. 'MINSA' is selling Organic and Non GMO corn flours from White, yellow, red and blue corn.

http://www.minsa.com.mx/ingquienes.html

AAQ, thank you for the link. I've not seen MINSA products in our local Mexican markets, but I suspect if I look hard enough I can find it easier than I think :wink:

How was the food show, and especially Comida Latina. I wanted to go but was actually in Mexico so had to miss it this year. Other than the masa you cited above, any new and/or interesting items?

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So, I went to the Western Regional food show/Comida Latina and I thought I'd share one of the purveyors. 'MINSA' is selling Organic and Non GMO corn flours from White, yellow, red and blue corn.

http://www.minsa.com.mx/ingquienes.html

AAQ, thank you for the link. I've not seen MINSA products in our local Mexican markets, but I suspect if I look hard enough I can find it easier than I think :wink:

How was the food show, and especially Comida Latina. I wanted to go but was actually in Mexico so had to miss it this year. Other than the masa you cited above, any new and/or interesting items?

I think it will be one of those things where we, the buying public, need to ask for. In mexico I think non-GMO and organic don't really figure much into buying decisions.

There was someone importing good quality Mexican Vanilla based out of S.D..(PM me if you want the name). Chocolatera Moctezuma from Michoacan was there with some really high quality Mexican chocolate including 40% bittersweet tabla.. Some really nice Mezcal from http://premiummezcal.com/ who is fighting for shelf space.

Those were the ones that interested me the most. There were quite a few beef and pork wholesalers, Mexican Cheese producers, Spice and Chile vendors. All sorts of prepared foods.

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Thought I'd pull the discussion back over from the thread where I picked it up. I made tortillas tonight, but they never puffed at all. Also, when they came out of the cast iron skillet, the weren't pliable at all... is that normal? They softened up once they came out of the oven, where I'd been keeping them warm while I made the taco filling. I guess what I'm wondering is, how moist should the dough be before it gets cooked?

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I'm sure others more knowledgeable than I will chime in, but here's my $.02.

What ratio of masa harina to water did you use?

I find that they puff best when I put as much water as possible without it being sticky. Rick Bayless' books call for 1 3/4c of masa harina to 1c + 2Tbsp water. I've found that to be too dry and add several more tbsp of water.

What temp is your pan at? I use a comal on a 14,200 BTU gas burner set between 7 and 8 (and about 9 on our old 9,000 BTU burners). There's no reason a cast iron pan won't work, but that kind of temperature tends to destroy any seasoning on the pan.

As far as timing, I do 30 seconds (or so), flip, about a minute, flip again, and another 30 seconds. It should puff on the last flip, sometimes I press down lightly on any ragged edges that are evidently venting steam, and sometimes I press the center as well.

Anyways, that is what works for me.

To be honest, I had been making (trying?) corn tortillas for some time before I realized they were supposed to puff. It wasn't until I stumbled on this forum quite a few years ago (yes, I've been lurking that long) that I learned otherwise. Almost all the advice given above was learned here.

Hope that helps,

Thanks,

Brian


Edited by brianl (log)

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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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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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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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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!

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

newsletter! LMarshall

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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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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.

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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.

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Do you mean sopes? I love sopes.

We made both.

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

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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.

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

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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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