Chewy Flour Tortillas
These tortillas have real body and taste; they are perfect for gorditas, fajitas and eating out of hand.
2 C All-purpose flour
1-½ t Baking powder
1 t Salt
2 t Vegetable oil
¾ C Lukewarm milk (2% is fine)
Stir together the flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and vegetable oil to the lukewarm milk and whisk briefly to incorporate. Gradually add the milk to the flour, and work the mixture into a dough. It will be sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with flour and knead vigorously for about 2 minutes (fold and press, fold and press). The kneading will take care of the stickiness. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rest for 15 minutes. (This dough will not rise, but it needs a rest.)
Divide your dough into 8 balls of equal size, cover them, and let them rest again for about 20 minutes. Avoid letting them touch, if you don't want them to stick together.
Dust your work surface with flour. Working one at a time, remove each piece of dough and pat it into a 5-inch circle. With a rolling pin, roll out the tortilla, working from the center out, until you have a 7- or 8-inch tortilla a little less than ¼-inch thick. Transfer the tortilla to a hot, dry skillet or griddle. It will begin to blister. Let it cook for 30 seconds, turn it, and let the other side cook for 30 seconds. Remove the tortilla, place it in a napkin-lined basket and cover with aluminum foil. Repeat for the remaining tortillas.
Although flour tortillas, like corn tortillas, are best if eaten right after they are made, these tortillas will freeze well. Wrap them tightly in plastic, and they will keep, frozen, for several weeks. To serve tortillas that have been frozen, let them thaw and come to room temperature, then wrap them in aluminum foil and heat them in a warm oven. Microwaving tends to toughen them.
Here are some tips as to technique:
Do not use bread flour. You want flour with a low gluten content.
You don't want to over-flour your work surface, but you don't want your rolled-out tortilla sticking to it either. I found that the dough adhered less to an unvarnished wood surface (like an old cutting board) than any other surface I tried.
A flat dough scraper, known in baking parlance as a "bench knife", is very efficient in removing the rolled-out tortilla from the work surface.
When rolling out tortillas, dust your rolling pin with flour, and don't be afraid to apply pressure. Flour tortilla dough is pretty sturdy; but not to the point of rerolling. You don't want tough tortillas.
The Border Cookbook recommends the use of a tortilla roller (similar to a short piece of broomstick), rather than a rolling pin.
Rolling out tortillas in perfect circles is harder than it sounds; the dough wants to draw up. So if perfectly circular shapes are important, you can trim away the excess with a sharp knife.
Once again, I believe a cast-iron skillet or griddle is practically indispensable for making any kind of tortilla. A dry cast-iron utensil, unlike most other materials, can take high temperatures over a sustained period of time without being adversely affected, although you may have to do a reseasoning afterwards (see How to Love Your Cast-Iron Skillet, June, 1998)
Once you get a rhythm going, you can roll out a tortilla, put it on to cook and, while it cooks, roll out your next tortilla. Seems like an arduous process but, with this method, I could produce 8 tortillas in about 10 action-packed minutes. Be sure to rewrap your fresh tortillas each time you add another to the stack.
If you like, you can substitute one cup of whole wheat flour for one cup of the all-purpose flour.
My personal preference is for plain tortillas but, if desired, you can spice up this recipe by adding
A tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs (like oregano or rosemary)
A teaspoon or so of dried herbs
Freshly ground black pepper
A tablespoon of minced jalapeños
A little garlic powder (or substitute garlic salt for the salt)
If you choose to experiment with seasonings, mix dry spices with the flour mixture and fresh or "wet" seasonings with the milk.
My results with the above recipe were outstanding -- chewy, delicious, irresistible. My experience with the Sonoran variety, however, was less than spectacular.
Sonoran cooks have turned tortilla making practically into an art form. Their tortillas are large (some are pizza-sized), thin and delicate. I followed this fairly standard recipe: