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Mexican "flour" tortillas

Tortillas are one of the most common foods in Mexico and they grace just about every table at just about every meal.  Traditionally made of corn, they are also commonly made of wheat flour.  Corn tortillas are called "tortillas" and wheat tortillas are called "flour tortillas" - tortillas de harina.  Click here if you want to read more about tortillas and how they are eaten in Mexico.

The process of making corn tortillas from scratch is laborious, but flour tortillas are easy! 

Ingredients - makes about 20 tortillas the size of a side plate

300 g of flour - the weaker the better - don't use your strong bread flour for these
200 g boiling water
50 g lard or vegetable oil (not butter)
1 tsp salt

Method

Pop the kettle on.

Measure the flour into a big bowl and add the salt.  Mix well and then add the fat (lard or oil) and rub it in with your hands to make crumbs.  Measure in the boiling water and, using a fork or a spoon stir well to blend the ingredients.  When the dough is cool enough to handle, take it out of the bowl and give it a little knead to make sure all the flour is used up and the dough is smooth.  Four or five little kneads is all it takes.

Pop the dough back in the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or a shower hat and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to relax.

To make the tortillas get the following ready:

- the dough
- your tortilla press OR a rolling pin and two pieces of plastic wrap as big as the tortillas you are going to roll.  A press does not work as well as rolling.  Presses come into their own with corn tortillas, but the gluten in the wheat flour fights with you and you cannot get a super thin wheat tortilla using a press.

If you are going to eat them straight away you need a comal or frying pan that is very hot and contains no oil in order to cook them and you need to have a basket with a cover or a cloth big enough to hold all your tortillas as you make them to keep them warm and soft. 

Tortillas in Mexico are anywhere from the size of a big coaster to the size of a side plate.  The HUGE, HONKING dinner-plate-sized tortillas are pretty Tex-Mex but of course you do see them in Mexico too, mostly in the North close to the border.  If you are dreaming of a Tex-Mex breakfast burrito, you need a dinner-plate-sized tortilla.  To make tacos you want something a lot smaller - more the size of a side plate.

Break off a piece of dough that is anywhere from the size of a golf ball to the size of a baseball.  If you are using a press, place a piece of plastic wrap down (we use cut up plastic bags), place the ball of dough on top, place another piece of plastic down and press hard.  Your tortilla should be very thin.  Peel off the top layer of plastic with your working hand, dip your working hand in a bowl of flour, flip the tortilla in your floury palm and peel off the top layer of plastic.  Immediately pick it up and carry it over to your hot pan.  To put it in the pan without it wrinkling or folding, don't flip it over and drop it in the pan.  Keep the palm of your hand (with the tortilla on it) facing upward and lay the tortilla in the pan that way. The tortilla will start to cook immediately and flip it over every few seconds (hace la vuelta) to cook it.  Don't over cook it so that it gets dry.  When it looks cooked (less translucent, some little spots on it) pop it in the basket/cloth and cover it up and cook the rest in this way.

To make your breakfast burrito, prepare all of your ingredients, put them in your tortilla, wrap it up, shallow fry it in oil or lard if you want to (seriously) and eat it up!  To make tacos, fill the tortillas with your favourite fillings and gobble away!  My new book on Mexican Cooking will be published in the autumn of 2020 and there are some amazing recipes in there with which you can eat your very own tortillas.

If you are going to press them and only cook some of them or cook them all another day you need some squares of grease proof paper as big as your tortillas to put between the raw tortillas so they don't stick together, and a zip lock bag in which to place them.  Pop them in the fridge, they will last for 3 days.

Want to know more?  Uncertain what to do?  Click here to watch a little video that shows you how to cook them.


Tortilla - topped and waiting to be eaten Tortilla - topped and waiting to be eaten

Flour tortilla dough Flour tortilla dough

The tortilla in the pan The tortilla in the pan

Sometimes the tortillas puff up in the pan - FUN Sometimes the tortillas puff up in the pan - FUN

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