When you live in a place where a flour tortilla isn’t sold as a ‘flour tortilla’ but as a fajita or burrito wrapper, or as a taco shell, there is no course of action to take but to make them at home.
My normal tortilla recipe is too large to efficiently solve a desperately in need of a good tortilla crisis, but the beauty of the recipe written in metric units is the ease with which it may be scaled up or down.
This size batch yields eight tortillas, approximately 5″ in size; perfect for dinner for two. Due to the small size of the batch, it is more efficient to simply knead the dough by hand, though a handheld mixer fitted with a dough hook would prove handy.
I have chosen to omit baking powder from this recipe after testing both with and without it, and finding it unnecessary for the type of tortilla I personally prefer, which is as thin as my meager rolling skills will allow me to make. Baking powder is helpful in creating a more airy thick tortilla, at a proportion of 1/4 teaspoon per 100 g of flour.
The recipe should take approximately 40-45 minutes, from start to finish, depending on the level of confidence with a rolling pin, and the urgency of the tortilla emergency.
The recipe provided here is a ratio with which to begin tortilla making. The process of making tortillas becomes simpler when thought of in terms of weight rather than volume, and can be broken down to being 4 parts flour, one parts lard, just a bit more than parts water by weight. A few more drops of water may be at times necessary, depending on the type of flour being used and ambient humidity. The same proportions of flour and lard can be used to make whole wheat tortillas, but will require approximately 25% more water.
- 200 g all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting as needed
- ½ tsp salt
- 50 g lard, room temperature, plus more as needed
- 80 g (⅓ cup) warm water, plus more as needed
Working in a bowl, mix the flour and salt well. Add lard, cutting into flour with a pinching motion of the fingertips until gravely in appearance. Slowly add the water, mixing constantly while doing so. The dough should feel just slightly tacky to the touch, but not enough to stick. Adjust with more water or flour, using very small amounts of each, if necessary.
Knead the dough with the heel of the palm, extending away, folding over itself and turning until smooth and elastic.
Rub palms with a small amount of lard. Divide the dough into equal portions, approximately the size of a golf ball. The dough is easily divided by pinching the desired amount between the thumb and forefinger, and closing them together into a small o.
Continuing to work with greased hands, roll each portion into a smooth ball. Place on a tray and cover with a damp towel. Rest for 30 minutes, giving the dough enough time to become soft and relaxed.
Heat a heavy skillet/comal over medium high heat, testing the temperature by dropping a few sprinkles of water on the surface. If the water bubbles on the surface, it is not hot enough. If it evaporates instantly, too hot. If it forms small spheres and dances across the surface of the skillet, it is just right.
Working on a lightly floured surface, flatten each portion into a disk. Begin to roll out by starting from the center and rolling away, going back to the center and rolling towards. Rotate the disk and keep rolling until the tortilla reaches the desired size and thickness.
The tortilla should be picked up with a sweeping motion of the palm and secured by lightly pressing with the thumb. Lay the tortilla flat on the skillet/comal by reversing the motion.
Cook the tortilla for approximately 10 seconds on the first side, flipping over and cooking on the reverse side until the edges lift from the sides, and if everything goes well, the tortilla will puff up beautifully.
An old pro tip, but one which merits repeating: place a damp towel under a bowl in a ring shape while mixing to prevent movement.