I know what you’re thinking– tortillas? Why make tortillas at home when you can buy a package at the store for a few dollars? I was thinking the same thing myself, right before I decided to do it anyway because I didn’t want to go to the trouble of leaving the house just to buy mediocre, mass-produced tortillas when I could experience the joy of making my own for the first time.
Okay, perhaps “joy” is a bit strong of an adjective– let’s just say it was interesting, and the tortillas came out reasonably well, and I’m glad I at least gave it a try. I definitely think there’s something about the pillowy chewiness of a handmade tortilla that beats out the flat, soulless ones you find at the store– even if it’s not perfectly round or evenly rolled.
Ordinarily tortillas are made with lard, or perhaps shortening, which is cut into the flour before warm water is added to make the dough. Unfortunately I didn’t have lard or shortening, or even regular vegetable oil, so I ended up using olive oil, figuring that a little extra flavor never hurt anyone. I had a little trouble rolling out the dough into a roughly circular shape (mine were more freeform), and probably should’ve used my cast iron skillet instead of a nonstick pan to get better browning on the outside, but overall I think they were pretty good!
(makes 16 taco-sized tortillas)
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup oil
1 cup hot water
1. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.
2. Add oil and water to dry ingredients to form a soft dough.
3. Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead until it becomes smooth and cohesive– 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Divide dough into 16 pieces (about the size of a ping-pong ball) and let rest for at least 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax. This will make rolling easier later on.
5. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron would be good). Roll out your first piece of dough very thin– as thin as it’ll go– and place into hot skillet. Cook about 45 seconds, until large bubbles form, and then flip to cook for another 30 seconds. The bottom should have brown spots on it when you flip it. While your first tortilla is cooking, use this time to roll out your second, and so on.
6. Keep cooked tortillas warm by stacking and covering with a towel, or place them on a sheet pan in a 200-degree oven.
7. Store leftover tortillas in a zip-top bag and reheat in the microwave, covered with a damp paper towel to keep them soft.