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Recipe

Handmade Flour Tortillas

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields eight 9- to 10-inch tortillas.

I’d always heard that making flour tortillas by hand is pretty simple, but I’d never tried it until recently, when Fine Cooking decided to do a feature on quesadillas. Here was the excuse I had been waiting for to give it a shot. Using various ingredient combinations, I tested several batches of tortillas before arriving at a recipe that made just what I was looking for: light and tender tortillas with soft, flaky layers. And you know what? They really are easy to make.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you have to make your own tortillas to try our quesadillas, but if you do, be forewarned: Once you taste these and see for yourself how uncomplicated  it is to make them, store-bought tortillas may not taste the same ever again.

Ingredients

  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for kneading and rolling
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening or lard, cut into small pieces

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on eight servings
  • Calories (kcal) : 160
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 50
  • Fat (g): 6
  • Saturated Fat (g): 1.5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Cholesterol (mg): 0
  • Sodium (mg): 300
  • Carbohydrates (g): 23
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 3

Preparation

  • In a medium bowl, stir the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the shortening or lard and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender or two table knives until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in 2/3 cup warm water with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and soft, 3 to 4 min., reflouring the surface as necessary. After kneading, the dough shouldn’t be very sticky.

  • Portion the dough into eight equal pieces (about 2 ounces each) and shape each piece into a ball. Cover the dough balls loosely with plastic and let rest on the counter for at least 30 min. and up to 2 hours.

    Form the dough into balls.

  • When ready to cook the tortillas, heat a large (11- to 12-inch) dry cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat until hot. Working with one ball of dough at a time (keep  the remaining dough covered) and using just enough flour to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a 9- to 10-inch round. The dough should be so thin that you can vaguely see the pattern of your countertop through it, and it should be more or less circular, though an amoeba shape is fine, too.
     

    Roll out the dough.

  • Peel the dough off the counter and lay it in the skillet or on the griddle. Cook until the tortilla bubbles and puffs and the bottom browns in spots, 45 to 60 seconds. If any gigantic bubbles form, pierce them so the tortilla cooks evenly. Flip with a spatula and cook until the second side gets brown in spots and any translucent, raw-looking areas become opaque, another 45 to 60 seconds. (If the tortillas brown too quickly or start burning in spots, reduce the heat to medium low.) Transfer to a clean dishtowel and cover to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining dough, stacking and covering each tortilla as it’s cooked.

    Cook the tortillas.

Make Ahead Tips

Because they’re not loaded with preservatives, these tortillas taste best when freshly made. They’ll stay pliable as long as kept warm. Leftover tortillas may be frozen (let cool thoroughly first.) Rewarm individual cooled or thawed torillas on a grittle or skillet, or wrap several tortillas in foil or heat in a 350ºF oven until warm and pliable, about 10 minutes.

Reviews

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Reviews (9 reviews)

  • TheCrockedChef | 08/05/2019

    This is the recipe that you're looking for!!! These tortillas taste EXACTLY like the ones you get from your favorite Mexican restaurant. There is absolutely no difference.

    Don't use butter or vegetable oil. You have to use lard. I used bacon fat. It did not add any extra bacon flavor unfortunately, but it worked fine.

    The key to this recipe is rolling the dough out super, super thin like what's shown in the photo above. These tortillas will double in thickness when you cook them, so make them thin.

    I put the first dough ball on a sheet of waxed paper that was sprayed with oil, sprayed the top of the dough ball with more oil, covered it with another piece of paper and mashed down on it has hard as I could with my wood cutting board.

    I repeated the process until I had a stack of roughly 4" - 5" disks of dough. Afterwards, I separated the stack keeping each disc on the wax paper base and rolled the dough out to tortilla size.

    I have a gas stove and I got a cast iron pan screaming hot and placed the first tortilla on it with the wax paper facing up taking care not to burn the paper. After a few seconds, the paper released from the dough and I was off to the races. Make this recipe! You won't regret it.

  • LadyArmstrong | 03/15/2016

    Now these are REAL tortillas! The first recipe I tried used olive oil & no baking powder....just wasn't right. Real deal here. Thanks!

  • User avater
    Onymous | 05/17/2013

    I just made these today after becoming disenchanted with the brands (really, the ingredient list) available at the store and they were wonderful. I used home-rendered leaf lard. The dough was easy to work with and the results very tasty.

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