Friday, September 5, 2014

The Best and Easiest Homemade Flour Tortillas

Last week, we took Emma to  her first baseball game. We received tickets through Paul's work and figured it would be a fun family night out. We were especially excited to take Matthew but discovered that he was more interested in the food than the baseball game. Emma actually sat pretty quietly and calmly on my lap for the first two innings before she started to get restless. She climbed down during the third inning and insisted on standing and bobbing about for the next few at-bats. That was about the time a young Dad and his 6-year-old daughter climbed into the seats next to us each holding a gigantic plate full of nachos. Emma could not take her eyes off the nachos and pointed at them urgently.

"No Emma, those are not ours!" I whispered to her. She did not complain about it again, so I went back to watching the game. A little while later, she climbed back into my lap. I thought she just wanted to cuddle, but really the little chunk was trying to inch a little closer to those nachos.

A minute later, I heard the little girl yell: "HEY!"

I looked down to see Emma holding a gigantic cheese-smothered chip that she had grabbed from the little girl's plate. She looked guilty and quickly stuffed as much of the chip in her mouth before I could react.

"Emma! NO!" I tried to grab the rest of the chip away, but she held on tight. The little girl scooted away from Emma, scowling at her the whole time. At least her dad seemed to have a sense of humor about the whole thing. He couldn't stop laughing. They actually ended up taking off early from the game, leaving their half-full trays of nachos behind on the concrete below their seat. That was when we decided to take off - Emma kept fighting to get to those leftover nachos. I swear with the ways my kids act in public, people are going to think I never feed them!!

Watching our cat stalk a rabbit.

Switching gears for a moment...let's talk about tortillas!

Does this scenario sound familiar? You see that "enchiladas" are on the menu for dinner and the kids are napping so you figure it is the perfect time to start making those bad boys. You open the pantry and realize that you forgot to buy the tortillas! Kind of a necessary ingredient, right? Do you wake the kids up and drag them to the store? Do you phone your husband and ask him to stop by the store on the way home (and risk have him walking in with about 300 extra items you don't need - like the habanero flavored Cheetos he was drooling over last weekend)? Or do you fulfill your role as domestic goddess and take matters into your own hands and simply make your own tortillas? Believe it or not, you can have a beautiful, fresh batch of homemade tortillas in about the time it takes to run to the grocery store and back!

If you've never done it before, this is a great recipe to start with! It's easier than my previous recipe and rolls out like a dream. I was amazed at how simple it was to get these nice and thin! Since most of us humble folk probably do not have access to a tortilla press (we can't all be Rick Bayless), the most difficult part about making tortillas is rolling them into a perfect circle. It is a little difficult to get the hang of, but if you keep your surface well-floured and keep working at it, you'll develop the technique pretty quickly! Admittedly, my first two tortillas were closer to being a square than a circle. However, by the third one I had the shaping down! Both kids were sleeping while I was working on this and from start to finish, the whole process took me less than 45 minutes. I might have to start making a big, big batch of these to store in the freezer to make future meals easier!

The BEST Homemade Tortillas
barely adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farina

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup warm water

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough hook, mix dry ingredients until well combined. Add oil and water with mixer running at a medium speed. Mix for 1 minute, stopping several times to scrape the sides of the bowl. After about 1 minute, or whenever the mixture comes together and begins to form a ball, decrease mixing speed to low. Continue to mix for 1 minute or until dough is smooth.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface. Divide the dough into 16 portions. Form each piece into a ball and flatten with the palm of your hand a bit. Don't be afraid to use a little flour if the dough is too sticky to work with! Cover flattened balls of dough with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes before proceeding.

After rest period, heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Roll each dough piece into a rough circle, about 6-7 inches in diameter, keep work surface and rolling pin lightly floured. Again, do not be afraid to flour and re-flour the work surface as you roll each piece of dough.

When pan is very hot, place one dough circle into pan and allow to cook about 1 minute or until bottom surface has a few pale brown spots (I used this time to continue rolling out more dough into neat little circles - but don't forget to keep an eye on the tortilla in the pan or else it will scorch!!). The uncooked surface will begin to show a few little bubbles. If tortilla is browning too fast, reduced heat a bit. If it’s taking longer than a minute to see a few pale golden brown spots on underside of tortillas, increase heat a bit. Flip to other side and cook for about 30 seconds. You want the tortilla to be soft but have a few small pale golden brown spots on surface. Remove from and stack tortillas together. Keep them covered with a dish towel. Repeat until all the tortillas are cooked.

Use immediately or transfer to a ziploc storage bag and refrigerate or freeze! To rewarm, wrap in a few damp paper towels and microwave on high for 20-30 seconds.

1 comment:

  1. Your tortillas look very nice. When I make them, as I did today, I add the water slowly and use only enough water to make the dough soft and pliable; otherwise, it will be very sticky. My mother once told me that if the dough is sticky that I should knead it quite a bit and that would help; and it does. I use a small rolling pin made from a broomstick handle; paint removed, of course. I roll and shape the dough with my right hand and lift the dough each time I roll. For some reason kids love tortillas. Emma's appetite is amazing.