Time for the second part of my Beach Bum tacos! The second part, homemade flour tortillas, was completely accidental. I needed to make the tacos that night, because my avocados were going to go bad (the end of the world as I know it), and I had written myself several reminders to pick up flour tortillas from the grocery store. Instead, I forgot all about it until I finally stumbled into my apartment, starving, and realized that I forgot to grab some. I was going to just make taco salad, but I was out of lettuce! Just so you know, this is the story of my life.
Rather than giving up and heating up some Ramen, I decided that it couldn’t possibly be difficult to just make flour tortillas. After all, people use flour to make a variety of patties all over the year – and they don’t all have my super sweet Cuisinart Toaster Oven or my handy stainless steel stove-top burners. So after thumbing through a few of my cookbooks and not having any luck, I started scouring the Internet for a decent (i.e. easy) recipe for flour tortillas. I finally struck gold at the Homesick Texan’s site where she had this recipe, which comes from The Border Cookbook, by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison, as well as quite a bit of history about Tex Mex tortillas and Tex Mex cooking in general. The Homesick Texan wrote, “They are perfect for sopping up beans, wrapping around fajitas, grilling with cheese or just eating warm with butter and salsa.” That sounded exactly like what I was looking for!
The recipe was quite simple. The only ingredients were: baking powder, salt, flour, canola oil, and warm milk. (For the detailed recipe, including ingredient amounts, click here.) The best part about this recipe is that those ingredients are things that everyone already has in their kitchen cabinets. No, seriously. I honestly can’t think of a single person I know – including my most cooking-illiterate friend – who doesn’t have those ingredients. (Quite a bit cheaper than a package of store-bought tortillas for $5, huh? Huh huh huh? Yeah, that’s what I thought, too!)
To start, you simply mix the flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl with the two teaspoons of vegetable oil.
Once the oil is combined, you can slowly pour in the warm milk.
This will form a slightly sticky dough. In my case, it was a very liquidy batter, and I could not figure out why – finally I realized, I had only used one cup of flour, not the required two cups. Once I added the extra flour, the dough became the perfect consistency. I know this for a fact. You know, because I have so much experience with tortilla dough.
I dumped it out of the bowl and kneaded it gently about 20-30 times. Just enough to combine the ingredients thoroughly. Homesick Texan warned about over-kneading the dough, for fear that it become tough, so I tried to be very gentle with it.
Then you set it aside “to rest” for approximately 20 minutes. During this time, I whipped up the guacamole (coming up tomorrow!) and poured over Homesick Texan’s other posts. (I highly recommend checking her out, if you want smart, witty commentary and great photographs – and who doesn’t?)
Twenty minutes later, this is what I had:
Yeah, it looked pretty much the same to me, too. The next step was to form the dough into eight little balls (tortilla-lings!), so I divided the dough into eight equal pieces and started rolling.
Were I less starving, and in less of a rush, I might have made sure that all those little cracks that you can see in the tortilla-lings weren’t there, but I was so hungry I was in a bit of a rush. Anyway, it didn’t affect the final product at all.
I covered the tortilla-lings with a piece of plastic wrap and, again, let them rest for another 10 minutes. During this time, I threw all of the steak from yesterday in the pan, seared it, and let it cook while I waited.
After ten minutes, I pinched each of the little tortilla-lings into a rough circle. Homesick Texan says to pat it into a 4-inch circle (which is approximately what I did) and then, using a rolling pin, roll it into an 8-inch circle.
Here is the 4-inch wide version. As I patted these together, I realized two things:
1. I did not have a rolling pin. (I know, right?!)
2. I was not sure how pouffy they would get while they were cooked. How much would they puff up? Would they not puff up at all? Hmmm…this, my friends, is a question for the ages. How pouffy will my tortillas get?
Using a tall water glass (no joke), I rolled each of the discs into patties about 6 inches in diameter.
Then I cooked them! (Guess what: they pouf.) All you have to do is put them on a dry griddle – no butter, for once! – and cook them for about 45 seconds to a minute on each side. It probably depends on how hot the griddle is when you put them on. This (below) was not quite done, because it was still white and doughy. But you can see the edges getting a little bit pouffy – and oh my goodness, it smelled so good.
When I was done cooking all of the discs, I gave them a quick examination. They were definitely much thicker than the flour tortillas you can buy in the store – which I would imagine you might need a tortilla press to get a flat as that – and reminded me a bit more of Indian naan, or thin white pita bread, in terms of consistency and thickness – but the taste was just like flour tortillas. If fact, they reminded me of some amazing flour tortillas I had at a Mexican restaurant in San Diego, that were a bit thicker than the store-bought ones, but also moist and tangy. I think if I were to make them again, I would experiment with adding some lime juice to maybe reproduce that flavor (also, I would probably get a darn rolling pin!). But hot off the griddle and wrapped around steak and smothered in guacamole, these were divine. I also brought the leftovers in to work the next day, and they were a big hit. They might be a little bit time intensive, but definitely worth it. I definitely recommend checking out the recipe.
Stay tuned for the third part of my Beach Bum Tacos series: guacamole. Occasionally known as the holy grail of Mexican cooking…in my book, anyway!
P.S. This was also very good practice for making arepas…which is next on my list of things to try.