Sunday, May 22, 2011

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Flour tortillas are a perfect vehicle for all sorts of things. Of course, they go well with any Mexican inspired meal. But they’re also great to use as wraps and folded for sandwiches. That said, grocery store tortillas are a problem for anyone on a low sodium diet. They’re pretty high in salt content. That’s the reason I preferred corn tortillas. I could find 2-3 brands at my local supermarkets that were extremely low in sodium and one brand was totally salt-free. Although I really like the flavor of corn tortillas, they can be a bit finicky to work with. First of all, they don’t necessarily lend themselves to foods that aren’t Mexican style. To serve them soft, you need to steam them to that perfect point – soft and pliable, not hard and stiff. On the other hand, to crunch them up, you’ve got to make sure you fry (or bake) them long enough to get them fully crisp. If you don’t, you end up at a weird in-between stage that is overly chewy and tough.

For years one of the members of the Cooking Forum tempted me with wonderful pictures of her homemade tortillas. I wanted to give them a try but figured I was too much of a klutz to manage. A couple of months ago, I finally took the plunge. Imagine my surprise when I discovered they were actually very easy to make. Since then, I’ve made them severa
l times

The great thing is that I can control the amount of salt. They're also a perfect summertime bread. No oven required. Yes, the pan is hot, but the whole cooking process is over with quickly. Much less heat escapes into the rest of the house.

Here's the recipe with my notes. If you give the recipe a try, be sure to use the full complement of shortening the first time around. The fat makes the dough very easy to work with. 

Flour Tortillas
AnnT from Cooking Forum
(Printable Recipe)

2 cups flour

½ tsp. salt (You can omit this altogether; I used ¼ tsp.)

¼ cup lard/shortening (I used Crisco)

1 tsp
. baking powder (I used Featherweight sodium free baking powder)
½ cup WARM [Ann’s note: might need a bit more]

Place flour, salt, baking powder in fo
od processor and pulse to mix. Cut in shortening and then add the WARM water; process to make a soft dough. Dough should be soft but not wet and sticky. (I needed to add about 1-2 tbsp. extra water.) Wrap in plastic and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 10 or 12 pieces and shape into balls. (I made 10.) Keep covered. (I let the dough balls rest for about 15-20 minutes
.) Roll each ball out into a 7-9 inch circle. (I rolled the dough out on either a Silpat mat or special non-stick pastry mat.) Dough should be thin. Cook on a dry hot grill or frying pan on medium heat, turning once. Do not overcook or they will be hard. (I generally cook them about 25 -30 seconds per side. I use a timer. However, once you’ve got a few brown spots on the 2nd side, it’s time to remove them from the heat) Butter and roll up and wrap in tea towel to keep warm as you cook the other tortillas. (I didn’t roll up the cooked tortillas. Instead I layered them with squares of parchment paper squares used for separating hamburger patties. Sometimes I butter them and sometimes I don’t.) Ann’s notes: I place the ones wrapped in the towel in a low 200 degree oven to keep warm while I am cooking the rest.

I store any leftover tortillas in a tightly sealed plastic bag. They don't need refrigeration, but I do keep them separated by the parchment squares.


Christy said...

Shambo, don't think me too forward when I say I LOVE YOU. Truly, flour tortillas are one of my family's favorite foods, and I cannot WAIT to try this recipe!! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing!!

I tolerate corn torillas but there's no comparison between the 2. Whenever I go to Whole Foods I stock up on Garden City all-natural Lavash. They may not sell it on the west coast, but I've bought it readily in both Philly and here in Portland, Maine. The stuff is fantastic! Super low in sodium, the lavash are huge, soft and addictive, just like flour tortillas. LOVE THEM!

shambo said...

Christy, the closest Whole Foods to me is about an hour away, so I've only shopped there once. I do have a Trader Joe's just about 20 minutes away, though. I visit it about every month or so. and pick up their lavash. I like both the whole wheat & white flour versions. But now that I've "mastered" homemade flour tortillas, I don't have to worry so much about stocking up.

You could experiment with dividing the dough into just eight (8) portions to make really large tortillas. Of course, you'd have to use an appropriately sized frying pan too. But I'd definitely keep the shortening at 3-4 tbsp. to start with until you were comfortable with the process. I also think that you could substitute oil for the shortening.

Whatever you do, have fun.

Thibeault's Table said...

Sue, thanks for posting the recipe and linking to my blog.

Homemade tortillas are the best.


Christy said...

Thanks so much for the tips, Shambo - you truly are the best! Printing out the recipe now and off to the kitchen to try! Going to use them as wraps for low-so chicken enchiladas -- already hungry just thinking about it!!!!

Have a wonderful weekend, my friend! :D

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Massachusetts!
A few weeks ago my elderly father was diagnosed with CHFailure and is now back on track.
Having to cook 'salt free' and be creative has been a challenge and I am so glad I stumbled across your fine blog which I have subscribed to!
So many ideas, so much helpful info.
Thanks for the site!
Corinne in Massachusetts

Rev. Theresa Sutton said...

I live in Elk Grove and have dove into the low sodium diet thing vbecause my husband doublewammied us. He was diagnosed with CHF and while in the hospital had a minor stroke. Do you know of any local sources for the Hain baking powder? I've checked all the natural food stores and Nugge(it was listed on the Hain site), no luck. I ordered some along with the Ener-G baking soda sub and a cook book from Amazon, but I prefer to shop local. I', finding that I really don't miss the salt but I do miss baked goods, so it was nice to know we have an option.

shambo said...

Theresa, thanks for visiting my blog. I'm in the same general area as you and so have the same local resources available. At one time I was able to find the Hain no sodium baking powder at both Raley's/BelAir & Safeway. You might want to check just to see if they've decided to carry it again. At Raley's it was found in the natural foods section. You might consider checking out Whole Foods too. I order it regularly from online. (Check out Healthy Heart -- It's got a great assortment of low sodium products.)

Save Mart carries a wonderful brand of low sodium flour tortillas -- Sol de Oro. Nugget carries the brand's unbaked flour tortillas with only 95 mgs sodium/tortillas. I wrote about them last year:

All the local markets carry Ezekiel salt-free bread in the regular or natural foods freezer sections. And many carry Alvarado Street salt-free bread either in the bread section or with natural foods. Trader Joe's also carries 2 different salt-free whole grain breads.

Safeway has its own house brand of very low sodium whole grain bread. They usually don't stock many loaves at a time, so it may be difficult to find. But just ask at the bakery dept. and the clerks there will help you.

Raley's and Whole Foods sell California Lavash, a really low sodium flat bread wrap. It comes in white, whole wheat, & spinach varieties. Trader Joe's also carries low sodium lavash wraps, but the other ones are much lower in sodium content.

Theresa, since I live in the same general vicinity and am so familiar with the local markets, please feel free to email me or comment on any of my blog's posts. I'll be happy to let you know where I find low sodium products.

I feel very fortunate to live where I do. Raley's has a tremendous selection of low sodium products as do Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. But Safeway has its own unique products too. And Save Mart is adding more & more low sodium products to its shelves. The combination of these great grocery stores and Healthy Heart Market has made following a low sodium diet much easier than I first imagined. Good luck!