And she’s right, of course: for convenience, store-bought tortillas are just the ticket.
But when I have some time, feel like puttering about a bit, or I want to make a TexMex meal go from yummy to spectacularly yummy (or when I just don’t want to drive to the store to get tortillas!), then I’ll make some Flour Tortillas.
One afternoon several years ago, inspired by The Little Book of Mexican Cooking, a craving for burritos for supper, and a desire not to have to make a round-trip drive of 22 miles just to pick up some tortillas at the store, I decided to give making homemade Flour Tortillas a try.
My Little Book of Mexican Cooking assures me that “flour tortillas are easier to make at home than the corn variety.” I’ve never tried making corn tortillas at home (well, at least not yet!), but I’m taking their word for (I do believe that making corn tortillas properly requires some kind of press or some such, ‘though I’m not sure).
Several things make homemade Flour Tortillas yummier than store-bought:
- They’re soft and they’re fresh — no preservatives.
- You can make them thick or thin (I prefer thin) — your preference.
- You can make them the exact size you want.
- If you use butter-flavored Crisco (which is the vegetable shortening I use), then they’ll have a lovely, rich hint of butter flavor in the background.
Making Flour Tortillas at home isn’t difficult, it just takes some time (you’re taking the time to roll out several pieces of bread individually) and also a bit of practice, but it’s pretty easy to pick up the technique for it — after the first or second tortilla, you’ll no doubt be in the swing of things.
You don’t need any special tools or equipment to make Flour Tortillas at home:
- Rolling pin (suggest a wooden one, but any rolling pin will work)
- Damp cloth (non-terry) or paper towel for the dough
- Plates — one as a guide, one for the rolled and cut tortillas before they’re cooked, and one for the cooked tortillas (if you don’t have a plate that’s the proper size for what you want, then cut a guide of the proper size in food-grade paper or cardboard)
- A knife or dough blade to trim the tortillas
- Non-stick skillet or griddle to cook the tortillas (anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute or so per tortilla — you’ll be able to tell when they’re done)
So the next time you want to make your TexMex special — or you just want to try something new! — make some homemade Flour Tortillas…and then you won’t have to sing “No hay tortillas” in a mournful tone. 😉 (Go one, give it a listen — it’s fun, and you know you want to!)
For 12 burrito-sized tortillas or 24 fajita- or soft taco-sized tortillas
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading/rolling)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/3 cup vegetable shortening (recommend butter-flavored Crisco)
- Approximately 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups hot water (hot from the tap)
For 6 burrito-sized tortillas or 12 fajita- or soft taco-sized tortillas
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading/rolling)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons vegetable shortening (recommend butter-flavored Crisco)
- Approximately 3/4 to 1 cup hot water (hot from the tap)
For 8 fajita- or soft taco-sized tortillas
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading/rolling)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon + 2 1/2 teaspoons vegetable shortening (recommend butter-flavored Crisco)
- Approximately 2/3 to 3/4 cup hot water (hot from the tap)
1. Mix or sift together flour and salt in a medium to large bowl. Cut in shortening with a fork or with your fingers. Gradually stir in water (remember, you can always add in more but you can’t take it out!) to form a soft, pliable dough.
2. Knead gently on a lightly (1/4 to 1/2 cup) floured surface until dough is no longer sticky.
Cut dough into desired number of pieces (24, 12, 8, 6), set aside, and cover with a dampened paper towel or cloth.
3. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll gently on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, turning often to prevent sticking, to desired size (use a plate as a guide — dinner plate for burrito-sized; saucer or salad plate for fajita- or soft-taco size). Trim to a round shape. (I’ve gotten to be a dab hand with rolling tortillas, and also I’m generally not bothered if they’re not perfectly round, so I seldom trim mine now — I just use the plate as a guide.)
4. Place on clean plate and cover lightly with a lint-free (non-terry) towel. Dust each tortilla very lightly with flour to prevent them from sticking to each other.
5. Continue until all dough has been shaped.
6. Heat a non-stick griddle or skillet of appropriate size over medium to medium-high heat. Cook each tortilla until it just begins to brown and blister (anywhere from 10 or 15 seconds per side to 60 seconds or so per side — you’ll be able to tell), flipping once. (This is when they start smelling yummy!)
Transfer to a clean, cloth-lined plate and cover with a cloth; keep warm until all tortillas are cooked and you’re ready to use them.
7. Refrigerate any leftover tortillas: wrap loosely in a clean paper towel or cloth and placed in a sealed bag. Reheat in a skillet or wrap in a damp paper towel or cloth and reheat in the microwave.