Like all rational people, I love tacos. Perhaps unhealthily so. They’re the perfect food – easy, compact and flavourful. But, while my taco (filling) game was strong, I never bothered with the tortillas themselves. They were easy to come by in a small grocer near my house, so I always picked up a pack and went on my merry way. Until, horror of horrors, that grocer shut down.
Thankfully, my husband is a food purist and chef hobbyist, so knew the solution. Homemade tortillas!
For a true DIY tortilla, you would make your own masa. This involves drying field corn (or maize) and then treating it in a solution of lime and water. The soaked corn is then washed and ground into a dough, called masa. You can buy it fresh at Mexican grocery, or you can buy it dried and powdered (masa harina).
If you have fresh masa, you want to make sure it’s as soft and moist as possible without it sticking to your hands. If it cracks when squeezed, it’s too dry, and dribbles of water should be kneaded into the dough until it becomes malleable and forms a ball.
If you have masa harina, knead water into the powder bit by bit. You should use about one cup of water for one and a half cups of masa harina. Once you have a paste with a suitable texture, cover the masa with a damp towel.
A tortilla press is the easiest way to form your tortillas, but you can also use two cast-iron pans. Cut a zip-lock bag into two halves, and place one square on the bottom plate (keeping one aside for the top.)
For a standard-sized corn tortilla, you’ll want to roll the dough into a sphere the size of a golf ball. Flatten it gently between your palms.
Center the disk onto the square of plastic on the press, lay the second piece of plastic on top, and squeeze. You’re aiming for a tortilla 5.5″ in diameter and 1/4″ thick.
Peel off the top piece of plastic, flip the tortilla onto your palm and peel off the bottom layer.
With a cast iron pan prepped over medium-high heat, carefully slide the prepared tortilla out of your palm and onto the pan. The tortilla will stick to the surface.
Cook for 15 seconds, and then flip (by hand or spatula) to cook the other side for 30 seconds. Flip it back for 10 seconds, and back again for a final 10. When the tortilla is done, it will inflate.
Store the tortillas in an insulated container.