Making Flour Tortillas

It didn’t even occur to me until I was putting this post together that these might seem a little well-done to some of you. But I like deeply toasted tortillas. Store bought tortillas usually sport a few polite light-tan spots on them. I view those as the flatbread equivalent of par-baked bread loaves, meant to be finished at home. I do so with an aggressive heating, right on a stove burner. What you get is not only a boost in flavor, but a crunchy-soft texture that I find irresistible. When I make tortillas fresh, I cook’em until they blister.

Begin by combining your flour, salt and shortening in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle (you can also do this by hand if you wish).

Mix on medium speed for about three minutes, then with the machine running add the warm water.

Keep mixing for about another three minutes until a dough forms and cleans the sides of the bowl.

Divide the dough into twelve pieces of about three ounces each.

Roll the pieces into balls.

Cover the balls with a towel.

Flour your pastry board and set one of the balls down on it.

Gently roll the dough out (you’ll find it’s a very easy dough to roll). Roll a little, turn the dough, and roll a little more until you have a circle that’s about 10″ across.

You can toast the tortillas on a hot skillet as you make them, or roll them all at once and stack them between sheets of parchment, wax paper or plastic. They’ll keep this way for up to a couple of days.

Heat a pan over medium heat. Then, using no oil or fat of any kind, lay a tortilla in. Cook until the tortilla bubbles up in spots, about a minute. It’s better to cook these at a lower temperature than a higher temperature, because the extra time on the griddle will help to cook out the “cereal” flavor and/or texture that can occur with wheat flour.

Flip the tortilla and toast on the other side for another minute or so.

Cool the tortillas for a minute or so each on a towel, then transfer them to the stack, which you’ll want to keep wrapped in a towel or inside a tortilla warmer. They’re best just after they’re made, though they can be refrigerated or frozen. You will of course need to toast them once again to get them ready to serve. That being the case, if you’re planning to store them, try cooking them low until they’re just barely browned, that way you can re-toast them without the risk of burning them.

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