Tortilla are usually made from cornmeal, though flour can also be successfully
used to make them.
2 cups masa harina
1 1/4 cups hot but not boiling water
Masa harina (corn flour) can be purchased in most supermarkets. Quaker
and Maseca brands are both excellent.
If you are lucky enough to have a specialty Mexican market nearby, you
can purchase the masa dough freshly made and ready to press or roll out.
Place the masa harina and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and mix
with your hands to make a dough that comes together in a soft ball.
Continue mixing and kneading until the dough is elastic enough to hold
together without cracking, about 3 minutes.
If using right away, divide the dough into equal portions - golf ball
size and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel.
If making ahead for later use, wrap the whole ball in plastic wrap and
refrigerate for up to 1 day and then divide.
To form the tortillas, place a portion of dough between 2 pieces of plastic
Press with a tortilla press or roll out with a rolling pin into a circle
6 or 7 inches in diameter. Use your fingers to smooth any raggedy edges.
Continue with the remaining portions until the dough is used up.
Heat a heavy skillet, griddle or comal over high heat until it begins
Peel the plastic wrap off a tortilla and place the tortilla in the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 30 seconds. Turn and cook
on the other side for 1 minute.
Turn again, and cook until the tortilla puffs a bit but is still pliable,
not crisp, about 30 seconds more.
Remove and continue until all the tortillas are cooked.
Serve immediately as this is when they are the best.
This type of cornmeal
no wheat gluten, they are an ideal bread alternative for those who are
Whatever you do, don't confuse corn flour with corn meal. Corn meal is
made from a completely different process, and it simply won't work for
You'll need a cast-iron skillet or griddle and a tortilla press, too.
presses have become pretty easy to find in kitchen-supply stores. Not
exactly a high-tech gadget, if you pay more than $20 for one, you've paid
way too much. If you can't find a tortilla press, it is possible (but
not preferable) to press out your tortillas on a flat surface using a
heavy, flat-bottomed dish. You'll also need some plastic bags of the sandwich
or freezer variety, but more about that later.
In most recipes for corn tortillas, the proportion of ingredients called
for is 2 cups of Masa Harina to 1-1ž4 to 1-1/3 cups of water.
When mixing the masa,
mix all the Masa Harina with 1-1ž4 cup of the water. You can work it with
your hands, if you like. If it seems too dry, add additional water, a
teaspoon at a time. Too much water, and you won't be able to peel the
plastic off the tortilla; too little and your tortilla will be dry and
crumbly. Unlike pastry dough, masa does not suffer from being over-handled.
The masa will dry
out quickly. Keep it covered with a piece of plastic wrap/cling film or
used waxed paper or greaseproof paperwhile making your tortillas.
Hold the pressed
tortilla (with the plastic on both sides) in one hand. Peel away the top
plastic from the tortilla (not the tortilla from the plastic). Flip it
over into your other hand, and peel away the other piece of plastic.
Gently place the tortilla on the hot skillet or griddle. It should make
a soft sizzling sound when you do. If your tortillas are not perfect circles,
If your skillet or griddle is at the right temperature, a tortilla can
be cooked in no more than 2 minutes.
The use of cast-iron utensils is important. You are cooking at high heat
on a dry surface, and a lighter-weight utensil could warp.
Brown spots on your tortillas are good -- an indication that they are
handmade, rather than
Put your hot tortillas in an aluminum foil pouch wrapped in a kitchen
towel or napkin. You want them to stay hot and tender. Corn tortillas
can be made 2 hours in advance, wrapped and reheated. Bake, in a 350°F
oven for about 12 minutes.