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How To Make Flour Tortillas

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You can go anywhere in the world and find some variation on flatbread: pita, naan, matzo, and of course tortillas. I’ve done pita, and I have to say tortillas are a bit easier. Since they don’t use yeast it’s just mix and fry, no rising needed. And I can see how a little practice will make them even easier. I see lots of wraps in my future.

Ingredients


3 cups white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons bacon fat (see note below)
1-1/4 cups warm water (see other note below)

Directions

I love recipes with easy-to-remember proportions: 3-2-1 & 6. Scale it up, scale it down, easy. (By the way, I saw the same basic proportions all over when I was researching, but the one I had open when I wrote it down was Culinary Cory.)

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.


Add the bacon fat, which should be a bit cooler than room temperature.

NOTE: Most recipes call for shortening. Shortening is evil, and shouldn’t be called food. Use it if you want, I won’t break into your kitchen and call you names. But have you heard of trans fats? Okay, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Cut it in with a pastry cutter.

It’s ready when the flour looks like coarse meal instead of a powder, but there are no large lumps.

Add the water and mix until combined.

OTHER NOTE: Shortening is engineered (yes, engineered food, eww … oops, I wasn’t supposed to be saying anything more about that) to be solid at room temperature. Bacon fat is soft, close to liquid depending on how hot your kitchen is. You want the water to be warm enough to soften up your fat, but no so hot it makes it gooey. Sorry I can’t be more specific about an exact temperature, you’re just going to have to try it for yourself and practice.

If the dough is too wet — it’s sticking to the bowl — keep adding flour and mixing until a dough ball forms. Then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until it is smooth and uniform.

Flour the surface again, and the top of the dough, and roll it out into a rough circle. You need the flour on top of the dough or it will stick to the roller. The more it warms up, the more sticky it will get.

Don’t worry about being perfect, you just want to be able to measure uniform-sized pieces. Slice with a pizza cutter into 8-12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.

I did eight, but the tortillas were a little thicker than I planned. They worked great, but you can get a lot more out of one batch than I did. I’ll go for ten next time, but I could easily get twelve, though they might not be as big around.

Flour your surface and the top of each ball and roll out to about 8-10 inches. Or do what I did: Don’t bother with how many inches and just make them as big as your skillet will hold.

Preheat a dry pan over medium heat, and add one tortilla.

You should see bubbles within about 30 seconds if your pan is hot enough.

As soon as the bubbles are about as big as a quarter, flip it over and do the other side for the same length of time as the first side took.

And that’s it.

I’ll be back tomorrow to show you the chicken fajitas I made with these.

PS: You can do this in a food processor. Combine the dry ingredients, then add the fat and pulse several times. Then process on low speed while adding the water. Add more flour if needed until the dough pulls away from the sides.

Want more like this? For more recipes like this, that you can hold right in your hands, and write on, take notes, tear pages out if you want (Gosh, you're tough on books, aren't you?) you might be interested in How To Cook Like Your Grandmother, 2nd edition, Illustrated. Or to learn your way around the kitchen, check out Starting From Scratch: The Owner's Manual for Your Kitchen.

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