Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I made tortillas the other night...

...like, honest to goodness, homemade, they-were-just-ingredients-a-couple-hours-ago, tortillas.

I know, I'm surprised too.

It's something I've thought about ever since Tina got a recipe years ago from our uncle's relative.  And she's never made them.  I don't blame her because, think about it, the thought of making tortillas at your house sounds kind of daunting, doesn't it?

But, like I said, I'd been thinking about it.  And I had purchased a cast iron tortilla press from Target.  And I had bought a pastry cutter, so, well, I figured I better try it.  Plus, the tortillas that the local IGA carries really are awful, and I wanted fajitas.

I used a recipe that I found on Pinterest - a recipe from the Pioneer Woman - and went to town.  And by "went to town," I mean that I got busy making them.

Homemade Flour Tortillas


  • 2-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
  • 2 Tablespoons (additional) Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 cup Hot Water

Preparation Instructions

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large wooden bowl. Stir together.
Add spoonfuls of lard or shortening (use 1/2 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons), then use a pastry cutter to combine the ingredients. Cut mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Slowly pour in hot water, stirring to bring mixture together. Lightly knead dough 30 to 40 times, or until it becomes a cohesive ball of dough and is less sticky. Cover with a tea towel and allow dough to rest for at least an hour.
Roll into ping pong size balls, place on a tray, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rest for another 20 to 30 minutes.
When you're ready to make the tortillas, head a dark or cast iron griddle to medium/medium-high heat. One by one, roll out balls of dough until very, very thin. Throw tortillas (one by one) onto the griddle. Cook on each side for 20 to 30 seconds, removing while tortillas are still soft but slightly brown in spots. Remove and stack tortillas, and cover with a towel to keep warm. Serve immediately or allow to cool before storing tortillas in a container. To warm, nuke tortillas in the microwave, or wrap in foil and warm in the oven.
Helpful tips:
* Make sure the water you pour in is very warm.
* Allow the dough to rest, both after kneading and after forming into balls.
* Roll out very thin.
* Get the heat right on your stove: Too hot, and the tortilla will burn in spots. Not hot enough, and the tortilla will begin to crisp before you can get it to brown. I get my stove between medium and medium high heat; that seems to do the trick.
* Use a dark griddle or cast iron skillet to brown the tortillas.
* Cook just long enough to lightly brown the tortilla in spots; don't cook too long or tortillas will crisp. You want them to be soft and pliable when you serve them.
* Finally: Have fun! And enjoy them. They're absolutely scrumptious.

Okay, first of all, I'm not a big fan of how the Pioneer Woman writes.  I don't follow her blog.  But I have tried a couple of her recipes and had success.  So I pulled out the big green Tupperware bowl - you know the kind you would take a taco salad to a big pot-luck in - because I wanted to be able to knead the dough in the bowl.  I don't know why the recipe calls for using a big wooden bowl.  I do not own one of those.

While I worked the Crisco (I used Crisco*) into the dry ingredients, I warmed the water in the microwave (because we have non-potable water, or else I would have just used hot water from the tap).  And so then the water was able to cool a little while I finished with the pastry cutter, because you're not supposed to use boiling water.

Okay, here's the deal.  She said to cover the mixture with a tea towel to rest.  Is it supposed to actually touch the dough?  Because as my dough rested for an hour, it dried out except for where it was touching the bowl.  I would love to know the answer.

Based on other recipes I read while my dough was resting, I did not shape all the dough and then let it rest again.  Lots of recipes don't ask you to rest the dough at all, so I figured it would be okay.  It was.

I assembled and cleaned my handy-dandy tortilla press, cut the two pieces of parchment paper so that the dough didn't actually touch the cast iron (as per instructions), and set my griddle to heat.

Within the body of her blog, the Pioneer Woman said that the first few tortillas won't turn out, and you'll get frustrated, but to just keep at it.  This is true.  I found it hard to find the perfect temperature (I'm still getting used to using a gas stove (a very old one, at that) after so so many years of an electric stove).  But I kept at it, noticed that I had to make the dough balls a bit larger, and kept making tortillas.  The first 2-3 were just not right - not really cooked in the center, but it got better.  And I was able to offer fresh hot tortillas to my husband when he got home, just like when you get seated at Pedro's.  And Jeff said that they taste just like Pedro's, which is definitely a compliment.

Once we sat down to dinner, and he had eaten part of a fajita, Jeff turned to me and said, "Don't ever buy tortillas again.  These just melt in your mouth like butter."

They truly were the best fajitas I had ever made, and I did nothing different to the veggies or chicken.

A couple of side notes:  Based on some other recipes I've read since making these on Friday, it looks like this recipe is heavy on the fat.  And the tortillas were very, um, buttery.  You definitely had to wipe your hands after eating a tortilla.  I would not make a drastic change, but probably decrease amount of Crisco used by one tablespoon each time until I felt it was the right amount for us.

*I think next time I buy it, I will get butter flavored Crisco, to help give the tortillas a little more taste.


  1. Look at you, all Suzy-Homemaker and all!!! Who knew! :D

    1. Yes, ma'am! And guess what... I even wear an apron when I wash dishes! I just can't even believe it...

  2. Lol!! I've been trying to find a decent gluten free recipe for ages!
    A few tips from my texas living days... Use plastic wrap and let it touch the surface of the dough all over, then place the tea towel over that. Soft dough and kept warm, too. Second, lard lard lard!! Yum Yum yum!!!!
    Wishing you a wonderful and very Merry Christmas!! XX! Lori