Homemade Corn Tortillas

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If you’ve already tried making your own home made flour tortillas you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say there’s no going back to the *plastic” variety available at the local grocery store. We’ve truly been spoiled since enjoying homemade for the first time and there’s no going back to anything but those coming from my skillet.

Sometimes being short on time to make a batch I’m right to the point of picking some up but just can’t do it! In about forty five minutes a fresh stack of rustic delicious tortillas are ready to eat and truly enjoy. These can also be made ahead of time and successfully frozen ready for those days when time is not on your side.

Corn tortillas have recently been on my mind as well as a tortilla press. I try to keep my kitchen gadget purchases to a minimum these days and as for many other purchases I postpone getting something I’m really interested in until I can resist no longer.

While shopping in a kitchen equipment store for something totally unrelated I came across the tortilla press I’d been dreaming of, the moment had come…it was time!

I had always imagined corn tortillas being made from cornmeal but that’s not the case. This was my introduction to corn masa flour which upon some investigation  learned that masa is dried corn kernels cooked and soaked in limewater then ground into masa. The dried masa is processed into masa harina or “dough flour.”

Who knew?…you learn something new every day!

The instructions on the package of instant corn masa flour suggests  that  Tamales, Pupusas, Atoles, Empanadas, Corditas and Sopes can be made from the masa as well. Being totally unfamiliar with most of these delicacies some research on the subject will be required so for the present time my attention will focus on mastering the art of making corn tortillas.

…and maybe homemade tortilla chips and salsa…now there’s a delicious thought!

Homemade Corn Tortillas

2 cups masa harina

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups hot water (hot tap water is good)

  1. To prepare the tortilla press cut a zip lock or sandwich baggie open along the sides and lay one side on the open press. Set aside.
  2. Mix the masa harina and salt together then add the hot water and stir to combine.
  3. Using your hands knead the dough for a minute or two inside the bowl until the dough is smooth, no longer sticky and easily forms a ball in your hand.
  4. If the dough is too dry and crumbly add more hot water a tablespoon at a time until the right consistency. If the dough is too wet and sticky add more masa one tablespoon at a time.
  5. Time permitting invert bowl over dough and allow to rest for about 15 minutes.
  6. Pinch off a few tablespoons at a time and roll into a ball about the size of a ping pong ball, continue to form balls placing them on a dampened  clean tea towel then cover the balls of dough until ready to use.  This will prevent the dough from drying out.
  7. Place a ball of dough on the plastic covered tortilla press, fold the other side of the bag over it and bring the top of the press down to flatten the dough.
  8. Peel away the top plastic sheet, flip the tortilla onto the palm of your hand and peel off the back piece of plastic.
  9. At this point Tortillas may be cooked as you make them or stacked between sheets of plastic wrap to prevent drying out then cooked all at the same time .
  10. Heat a griddle or skillet, when hot, place as many tortillas as will fit and cook 1 to 2 minutes on each side until dry to the touch and beginning to show some brown, toasted spots.
  11. Stack cooked tortillas onto a clean tea towel and cover, steam from the hot tortillas will keep them soft and pliable.
  12. Serve immediately or cool and store in an airtight container or zip-lock in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  13. To reheat tortillas place loosely in a dampened, clean tea towel and microwave in 30 second bursts until tortillas are warm.   Serve immediately.
  14. Makes approximately 18 six inch tortillas.

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 Notes, Tips and Suggestions

  • Corn Tortillas can also be made without a press but may prove to be a little more difficult.  The dough is very fragile and breaks easily when handled due to the absence of gluten in the corn flour.  (yes, they are gluten free)  The round  consistent shape may be a little more difficult to obtain as well.  It’s suggested to flatten the tortillas in between the plastic baggie with the bottom of a heavy skillet if no press is available.
  • If serving immediately after cooking, instead of wrapping in a tea towel place in a container such as a pot with a lid to keep tortillas soft and warm and serve from he same container.  Table top serving containers are also available specifically for tortillas but are not essential.
  • The recipe suggests cooking the tortillas as each ball is rolled but I found concentrating on one step at a time made the process so much easier.  Just be sure to keep all the dough balls in the dampened tea towel to prevent them from drying out.  Form the balls, press tortillas, stack between plastic sheets then cook all at the same time…so much easier to handle.
  • Not sure if this is consistent with all tortilla presses but placing the ball of dough directly in the center of the press didn’t work. The dough oozed out of the press and did not make a round uniform tortilla.  Placing the dough just off center gave the best results.
  • Masa is more likely to be found in the Mexican food aisle than on shelves where all other flour products are stocked in the grocery store.
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