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AlainV

Making Tortillas at Home

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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.

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


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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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.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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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?

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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.

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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.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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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!


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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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:

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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?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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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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After working my way through almost 2 kg of masa harina here's my only puffed tortilla:

puffed tortilla.jpg

I was not able to repeat this "success". Think I will take a break of a couple of days and try again when I can get more masa harina.

So far I have learned that there is no definitive recipe, water to masa harina ratio is a lot like bread dough - it depends. Hot, lukewarm, cold water makes no difference. Thickness of the pressed tortilla and temperature of the cooking surface seem crucial but can only be learned through experience. Few seemingly simple things have given me as much trouble as corn tortillas. :laugh:


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I'm beginning to think that puffed corn tortillas are a bit like enlightenment in Buddhism: striving and scheming just won't get you there. :wink:

Exactly!


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I don't have a sense of the corn tortillas needing to have much puff in them. Am I wrong?

I thought the puff was an indication of lightness since it indicates essentially two layers essentially versus the chewy leather-like quality Anna was reporting.

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I don't have a sense of the corn tortillas needing to have much puff in them. Am I wrong?

The puffing separates the tortilla into two layers on the inside, one that is very thin and another that is thicker. This helps the texture a lot, making sure that the tortillas are pliable and strong enough to hold ingredients without being cake-y at all on the inside. There's also at least one dish I know of where you stuff the pocket created by the puffing. I can't recall the name of it at the moment though.

And Anna, it took me a whole lot of ruined tortillas to get the touch too. Then when I went a while without making them, I had to make a batch just to get it again. It's worth the work though. There's no comparison to freshly made tortillas, even using masa harina (I've never been lucky enough to live close to a tortilleria so no fresh masa for me).


nunc est bibendum...

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There's also at least one dish I know of where you stuff the pocket created by the puffing. I can't recall the name of it at the moment though.

Panuchos?

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Or even corn to nixtamalize myself? :wacko:

I know that Gourmet Sleuth has it. Plus every thing else you would need to do it. Just type in dried corn in the search box on their webpage.


Edited by dsquare (log)

Dave

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Purcell Mountain Farms sells the dried treated posole.

The white and blue are treated, the others are not.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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After working my way through almost 2 kg of masa harina here's my only puffed tortilla:

puffed tortilla.jpg

I was not able to repeat this "success". Think I will take a break of a couple of days and try again when I can get more masa harina.

So far I have learned that there is no definitive recipe, water to masa harina ratio is a lot like bread dough - it depends. Hot, lukewarm, cold water makes no difference. Thickness of the pressed tortilla and temperature of the cooking surface seem crucial but can only be learned through experience. Few seemingly simple things have given me as much trouble as corn tortillas. :laugh:

The lack of blackening on your tortilla suggests your heat might be too low. Turn up the heat & with a spatula press down after flipping... once the comal is retaining lots of heat I get puffing on almost every tortilla I make.


Edited by EatNopales (log)

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Thanks for the tips all... so ...

Can I use alkalize this untreated "Yellow Corn For Posole" to make masa?

http://www.purcellmountainfarms.com/Yellow%20Corn%20for%20Posole.htm

Or am I still missing something?

The terminology confuses me...

Hmmm... traditionally Pozole is made from a varietal of corn called Cacahuazintle that yields particularly large, white kernels. It is a very starchy, less fragrant type of corn typically deemed as perfect for soups where it can take on the flavors of the broth but deemed too bland for tortillas. My understanding is that it can be used to make masa for tortillas & tamales but that you wouldn't want to.

The corn at the link above will likely make tasty, earthy, but slightly rigid tortillas.... and I can't imagine it being great for Pozole... wheras the white corn that Gourmet Sleuth is selling is perfect for making Pozole but would suck (no better than Maseca) for making tortillas. However, Gourmet Sleuth's blue corn looks like a common varietal for Tortillas

The difference in application of corn varietals is as dramatic as with wheat unfortunately the knowledge hasn't been codified in the English speaking U.S. quite yet.

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After working my way through almost 2 kg of masa harina here's my only puffed tortilla:

puffed tortilla.jpg

I was not able to repeat this "success". Think I will take a break of a couple of days and try again when I can get more masa harina.

The lack of blackening on your tortilla suggests your heat might be too low.

I agree with this: it's almost certain that your heat is significantly too low. I've tried a number of strategies that have worked, but the one I use now is to put my skillet on medium-high heat and let it heat all the way up before beginning. Then I give the tortillas a few seconds on one side (just until they release from the pan and start being able to slide around), then I cook on the other side until I can smell toasting corn: it will actually puff a little bit at this point already. Flip and repeat until it smells toasty again: the tortilla should puff way up almost as soon as you turn it over. Exact timing is of course dependent on how hot your pan is, but I think leaning the visual and scent cues is a big help.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Wonderful tips. I love to try this out! Hope I can get some ingredients in the market soon! :)

I suppose this is too mean.. but Rancho Gordo & I were investigating the rumor that Carniceria La Tapatia in Napa has spit roasted Al Pastor (they do & it is pretty good)... wandering the aisles we found prepared Masa made from Nixtamal of yellow corn in the deli case.

Been enjoying some nice, earthy, full flavored puffy tortillas all week. :biggrin:


Edited by EatNopales (log)

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Could it be the pan?

I recently acquired one of the smallest sized classic "block logo" Griswolds... perfectly smooth bottom, exactly the right size to hold one pre-made tortilla.

Heated over medium heat, flipped a couple of times, every tortilla puffs and browns in just the right places. It's kind of crazy how well it works.

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