How to Make Tortillas

The tortilla is a staple of Mexican cuisine.  how to make tortillasThink about a Mexican dish you love. We’re guessing there’s a large chance that it uses tortillas. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, oh my! They all start with a tortilla. So just what is the history behind tortillas, and how can you make your own?

The tortilla, which dates back to pre-Columbian times, was originally made from specially treated maize (corn) flour. After the Spanish brought over wheat to the New World, flour tortillas—an unleavened, water based dough that was then pressed and cooked like a corn tortilla—became popular.  Flour tortillas are popular for making burritos, a dish that originated in northern Mexico, since wheat tortillas can be made larger and thinner than corn tortillas because of their high gluten content.

Some fun facts:
  • There is a kind of art called “tortilla art” which uses tortillas as a medium.  Often they are covered in acrylic before they are painted.
  • Astronauts have been taking tortillas on space flights since as early as 1985 as a solution to problems of handling food in microgravity.
  • In the U.S., tortillas have surpassed both muffins and bagels to become the number two packaged bread product on the market.  (Literally the best thing after sliced bread!)

For those of you who want to know how to make tortillas, here’s a wonderful recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef:

Homemade (Flour) Tortillas

Makes 14-16 large flour tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup lard (or vegetable shortening) plus 1-2 tbsp., as needed
  • 1 cup hot water

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine both types of flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Drop 1/2 cup lard by the spoonfuls into flour mixture and, using a pastry cutter, your fingers or a fork, cut lard until it crumbles and is evenly dispersed in the flour. Slowly add the hot water and stir together until mixture sticks to itself. If not quite moist, add 1-2 more tbsp. lard, as needed. Knead, in the mixing bowl, for 3-5 minutes or until dough forms a ball and becomes less sticky. Cover bowl with tea towel and let rest for 1 hour.
  3. Break the dough into 14-16 smaller pieces and roll the pieces into balls. Cover balls of dough for an additional 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll one dough ball at a time into a thin, round tortilla. Make sure the ball is rolled out to be very, very thin. Carefully place onto the hot skillet and cook until bubbly and golden, about 30-40 seconds. Flip the tortilla over and continue cooking until golden on the other side.
  5. Wrap the cooked tortilla in a clean tea towel until ready to eat. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  6. Serve immediately or, once completely cool, store in an air-tight bag or container. To warm, wrap in damp paper towel and microwave for 20-30 seconds or wrap in foil and warm in oven.

So, now you know how to make tortillas. Congrats!

If you aren’t quite feeling up to making your own tortillas, but still want some authentic Mexican cuisine then stop on by one of our Ixtapa Mexican Grill & Cantina locations in GrotonLexingtonWoburn, and Lunenburg Massachusetts. Our extensive menu is sure to have something that can satisfy your craving.