Editor’s note: Sadie Davis-Suskind, 14, is an incoming freshman at Lakeside High School and an aspiring chef. A former “MasterChef Junior” competitor, Davis-Suskind will share a recipe each week that other young people can make as well.
Flour or corn?
Like every beloved comfort food, there are lots of opinions about the perfect tortilla. It turns out the debate has been going on for centuries.
The word “tortilla,” meaning round cake in Spanish, was the name that the Spaniards gave to the delicious unleavened flatbread they found during the 16th century in Mexico while they were on their never-ending quest for gold.
For the locals, corn had huge cultural significance. It was the main staple of their diet and tortillas date as far back as 10,000 B.C. Interestingly, several sources on the internet tell us, the Spaniards preferred wheat products to corn, so they used flour to make their own tortillas. Today, modern Mexicans (and everyone else!) eat flour and corn tortillas and both are central to Mexican cuisine.
Once you make homemade tortillas, which use only five ingredients (yes, you read that correctly!) and take only about 45 minutes, you will never go back to the mass-produced ones that sit on the grocery shelf. I could be wrong (probably not).
Let me know how it went, what you loved about this recipe and any other comments on my new Instagram handle: @sadieeatsseattle!
Enjoy and buen provecho!
Homemade Flour Tortillas
Large cast-iron skillet, griddle or comal (a smooth, flat griddle typically used in Mexico, Central America and parts of South America to cook tortillas)
Stand mixer with dough attachment
Towel or paper towels
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, vegetable oil or other fairly neutral flavored oil like grapeseed
1 cup warm water
1. Combine your flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment (or a large bowl if you are using arm power instead of electricity). Mix your ingredients until they are well combined.
2. Add the oil and water while your mixer is at medium speed (same goes for your arm speed). Decrease the speed to low when the mixture starts to form a ball, about a minute or so. Keep mixing for another minute or until your dough becomes smooth.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide your dough into balls of equal portions, about 14 to 16, then press down with your hand to flatten each ball into the shape of a hockey puck. Lightly sprinkle each piece with flour. Cover your flattened balls of dough with a towel or paper towels and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes or up to two hours.
4. Heat your pan over medium-high heat. With your rolling pin on a floured work surface, roll each dough piece into a circle that is about 8 inches in diameter.
5. Working one by one, put your rolled-out dough into the hot pan. Cook for about 1 minute, then flip it once and continue cooking an additional 20 to 30 seconds. The tortillas should be soft and have small brown spots on the surface. As you pull the tortillas off the skillet, griddle or comal, place them in a tortilla warmer or use a pot with a cover that’s slightly bigger than the tortillas. Place each tortilla in the pot after removing from the pan and cover with the lid. The steam from the just-cooked tortillas will keep them all soft and warm.
Now, dunk your warm tortillas in the dip of your choice: salsa, guacamole or smear with butter! YUM!
If there are any uneaten tortillas left over (doubtful!), they can be placed in plastic bags and kept for several days in the refrigerator.