Back in 1995 when our Chief Travel Correspondent was only about five months old, her great grandmother Olga came to stay with us for a bit. I can't remember how it was decided, only that she "liked to clean". I think it was maybe "compelled to clean". Nevertheless our windowsills were, in fact, spotless for the weeks of her visit.
In addition to keeping the windowsills squeaky clean, she showed me how to make tortillas. This was early internet days - no looking it up on youtube. Cooking blogs were not a dime a dozen and in fact did not exist to my knowledge.
Of course, the Chief Travel Correspondent has asked for the recipe. So here it will stay for safe keeping, the measurements (and even some of the ingredients) perhaps not even close to Olga's original recipe since I tend to change things up over the years. Her instructions, however, I remember as clear as day:
Mix flour and salt together. Work in oil and butter into flour and salt mixture by hand.
Olga told me that it should look, "like little peas". It never looked much like peas to me, but I figure the point is that the shortening is evenly distributed throughout, with no giant clumps anywhere.
Next add in the boiling water. It's great if you have "asbestos fingers" and can begin to hand mix right after you pour in the water, but if not, just stir until it's cool enough to handle. Then mix together and knead.
For ten minutes. Everything from here on out took "ten minutes" according to Olga. Everything.
Olga told me that you had to be able to get the sides of the mixing bowl clean using the ball of dough. She was not raised by her mother, and the aunt that raised her demanded the sides of the bowl be spic and span, otherwise she would be scolded for not being clean enough.
My guess is that it had more to do with the consistency of the dough than it did whether or not the bowl got cleaned during the cooking, but who really knows.
Let the dough rest for ten minutes. It can be covered in the bowl...but I thought it looked prettier this way for the picture:
You may notice there's a bottle of olive oil back there. Olga used "manteca"...otherwise known as lard. On a good day, I use half expeller pressed olive oil and half organic butter. If I've really thrown my diet out the window, I just use butter.
Next, roll the dough into balls, around golf ball sized.
Put a little dimple in the middle of each ball. You can kind of cup it in your hand and fold it in on itself to make the dimple:
After the dough rests again "about 10 minutes", you're ready to roll them out into small circles:
Cook both sides on a griddle until they are lightly golden brown:
Or...I just use one of these to flatten and then transfer to a griddle. It flattens and cooks at the same time:
Chef Pro Tortilla and Flat Bread Maker (link to Amazon)
One last note - Olga added a pinch of baking powder to hers. I omit the baking powder because 1) I like a flatter, thinner almost transparent tortilla and 2) I've always been able to taste the baking powder. But throw in a pinch if you feel so inclined!
Home Made Flour Tortillas
- 4 cups organic
- 1 teaspoon
- 1/4 cup
cold pressed canola or olive oil
- 1/4 cup
- 1 1/3 cup
Mix flour and salt together. Work in oil and butter until the mixture looks like "little peas". Pour in almost-boiling-hot water. Knead for ten minutes. Let rest, covered, for ten minutes. Roll into golf ball sized balls. Let rest for ten minutes. Roll out with rolling pin or press, and cook on each side until delicious!