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 several times.
The great thing about homemade flour tortillas is that I can control the amount of salt. Another great thing is that they’re 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. Eventually I want to experiment a bit by substituting some whole wheat flour. I may also cut back the shortening to just 3 tablespoons. 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 super easy to work with.
AnnT from Cooking Forum
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 food 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.