I have wanted to learn to make tortillas for as long as I can remember. My Great-Grandma (Nana) would roll out little Mexican slices of heaven all the time. Store bought tortillas can’t touch homemade with a ten foot rolling pin. They are two totally different beasts.
Here are the ingredients in Mission tortillas, the most popular brand around my neck of the woods.
Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Vegetable Shortening (Interesterified Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and/or Palm Oil), contains 2% or less of: Sugar, Salt, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate and/or Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Calcium Sulfate), Distilled Monoglycerides, Enzymes, Wheat Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Antioxidants (Tocopherols, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid), Cellulose Gum, Guar Gum, Calcium Propionate and Sorbic Acid (to preserve freshness), Dough Conditioners (Fumaric Acid, Sodium Metabisulfite and/or Mono- and Diglycerides).
Here are the ingredients in homemade flour tortillas.
- NON-hydrogenated shortening (more on this in a second)
What would you rather eat? Here’s the other fun part, homemade tortillas will cost you around $1.50 per dozen to make. When was the last time you bought a package of tortillas for $1.50?!
This is the shortening I used. There is only one ingredient, 100% palm oil. It’s not something you want to eat with a spoon, but it is light years beyond regular shortening. Honestly, if you want an even healthier tortilla, I would use lard. The real deal. There are plenty of resources out there that detail the benefits of using lard over butter or shortening. Pete Wells wrote a great article for Food & Wine if you are interested.
Here, by the way, is what is in Crisco:
SOYBEAN OIL, FULLY HYDROGENATED PALM OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM AND SOYBEAN OILS, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID (ANTIOXIDANTS).
Anything in your kitchen that is labeled with the words, “Partially Hydrogenated”, you want to toss in the trash. It doesn’t matter how much it cost you. When an oil in your food is partially hydrogenated, it has gone through a process which has changed its molecular structure and won’t be fully recognized by your body. It’s closer to a plastic in structure than oil. Hydrogenating oils helps keep a food product on the shelf longer. You know what else it does? It also scars the internal walls of your arteries.
So, go to a health food store and buy the shortening you see above, or get your self some good, clean animal fat. If you are a total nerd and want to learn more about lard, you might enjoy “Who Killed Lard” on NPR’s website.
Because you have read through all the boring stuff, I would like to reward you with some funnies. If you skipped down to this line, then you can’t see the funnies. Close your eyes and skip to the recipe, cheater.
- 12 oz. (2¾ cup) all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup non-hydrogenated shortening
- ¾ cup hot water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- Instructions adapted from Rick Bayless
- Combine the flour, baking powder and fat in a large mixing bowl, working in the fat with your fingers, until completely incorporated. Dissolve the salt in the water, pour it over the dry ingredients and immediately work it in with a fork; the dough will be in large clumps. Scoop the dough onto your work surface and knead until smooth. It should be medium-stiff consistency -- definitely not firm, but not quite as soft as most bread dough either.
- Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll each into a ball
- Roll and griddle-bake the tortillas. Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough into an even 7-inch circle: Flatten a ball of dough, flour it, then roll forward and back across it; rotate a sixth of a turn and roll forward and back again; continue rotating and rolling until you reach a 7-inch circle, lightly flouring the tortilla and work surface from time to time.
- Lay the tortilla on the hot griddle (you should hear a faint sizzle and see an almost immediate bubbling across the surface). After 30 to 45 seconds, when there are browned splotches underneath, flip it over. Bake 30 to 45 seconds more, until the other side is browned; don't overbake the tortilla or it will become crisp. Remove and wrap in a cloth napkin placed in a tortilla warmer. Roll and griddle-bake the remaining tortillas in the same manner and stacking them one on top of the other