Tortilla Tutorial

I grew up eating homemade tortillas. My paternal grandmother (full-blooded Native American from the Laguna tribe in New Mexico) taught my mother once she married my dad, who then taught me how to make these from scratch. They’re not the super thin variety you’d find in a package at the store. These are thick and hearty and full of flavor. Add a little butter to one straight off the griddle and oh my! A little piece of heaven.

It’s not as difficult as you might think to whip up a batch. To assure you that you can have your very own freshly cooked tortillas, I’ve made a tutorial to walk you through the process, step by step.

You probably already have all the equipment you need. Nothing fancy required except a rolling pin (though also having a pastry cutter would be an upgrade from the fork needed to cut in the lard/shortening in Step 2).

Now, on to the recipe…

Grandma Louise’s Tortillas
(Makes 1 Dozen)

Ingredients:

4 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
2 T. lard or shortening
Approx. 1 ½ c. luke-warm water

Directions:

1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.

2. Cut lard or shortening into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until it looks coarse and mealy.

3. Pour in half of the water.  Knead dough thoroughly and add remaining water until dough has an elastic consistency. (It shouldn’t be too sticky or too dry.)

Meanwhile, heat a heavy skillet over moderately high heat.

4. Separate dough into 12 even balls:

First, form the kneaded dough into one large ball with a slightly oblong shape.

Next, divide the large ball in half. Divide the two halves into four pieces. Finally, divide each of the four pieces into thirds.

You should now have 12 fairly even pieces of dough.

5. To create a round tortilla:

a) Roll each piece into a ball. Lightly flour your work surface.

b) Flatten each ball in the center with your rolling pin, or flatten with your hand.

c) Once initially flattened, roll out the ball, moving from center in an upward direction and then downward.

d) Turn the rolling pin and repeat motion in opposite directions.

e) Continue to roll in all directions until you have a near circle, lifting the dough and stretching slightly to the desired shape, if necessary.

6. Once the tortilla is flattened and rolled out, place one at a time on the hot skillet for approximately 2 minutes.

You’ll be able to tell it’s time to flip it over when it starts to bubble. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stack on a plate. Cover with a towel to keep warm.

Cook’s Notes:

  • I usually roll out each dough ball one at a time. While one tortilla is cooking, I’m preparing the next one (Step 5, a-e), that way I don’t run out of work space and the dough stays moist.
  • Make sure your griddle/skillet is hot. They just don’t cook right if the heat is too low.
  • I have never tried these with whole wheat flour. If any of you are brave enough to do so, let me know how it goes!
  • I have started using lard instead of shortening and have been pleased with the results. Might as well use the natural fat if you’re going to use any at all!
  • These are not what you would use to make quesadillas or enchiladas. Serve these with beans or as a fat holder of taco ingredients.

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Was the tutorial fool-proof? I’d love to know how your tortillas fared!

7 thoughts on “Tortilla Tutorial”

  1. This does look interesting. I was wondering if it is the same recipe for Indian Fry Bread if you decided to fry it instead?

  2. Yay! Finally a photo step-by-step instructions for homemade tortillas. Seriously, I don’t know how this conversation didn’t come up 10-12 years ago! Frankie has been wanting me to make these for that long. I think I’ll surprise him on Fathers day….

  3. How about a corn tortilla recipe? If you know how I would love instructions for that! They look great though. I think we will be having Mexican food tonight now.

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