I woke up this morning thinking about tortillas. Actually, I was thinking about fish tacos and it dawned on me that I should make my own tortillas. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. It started when I was standing in line at one of the best Mexican stands in the world, La Super Rica in Santa Barbara. It opens at 11 and there is always a line. One of the first things that you notice is that there is a woman who sits and does nothing but press out tortillas with a little hand operated press. It takes her about 10 seconds per tortilla, about the same amount of time it will take you to devour whatever you have ordered inside one of those tortillas. My mouth waters just imagining it.
The process of making tortillas is simple, inexpensive and fairly quick. Unfortunately, most of us never consider making them ourselves. Much like baking bread, once you roll your own, you will have a hard time going back to store bought. The ingredients are always in your cupboard and the tools are as common. If you are looking for a kitchen project for your kids, this is perfect. There are a handful of recipes that have been handed down along the border and the variations are probably more about conditions and availability than texture or taste. The amount of fat and type of fat seems to be at issue, as does the amount of water. Those two liquids are all about texture so if you are finding your tortillas to not be as smooth as you had imagined, then add a little more of either or both. I have given you the minimum amounts. Also, salt amounts seem to vary. So my recipe has a fairly light amount of salt. I also use olive oil instead of shortening or lard which tends to be a bit more viscous and adds a slight nutty taste that I like. Substitute vegetable oil if you prefer.
Makes about 15 Tortillas
- 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 1/4 Cups Warm Water
- Mixing Bowl
- Rolling Pin
- Flat Surface
- Plastic Wrap
- Non-Stick Pan
- Combine the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. You can use a fork or wooden spoon. I use my hands.
- Add the olive oil and mix well.
- Add the water and mix. If the consistency is still crumbly, add a little more water and/or oil.
- Remove from bowl and kneed on a floured surface for about 5 minutes.
- Cover and let rest for about 10 minutes.
- Roll into a tube and divide into about 15 equal parts.
- Roll the first piece into a ball.
- Between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll out into thin, round tortillas, constantly turning.
- Cover and keep warm. Repeat until all are rolled out.
- In a non stick pan, cook each on both sides for about a minute.