Today at the Old School, you’ll have a substitute teacher. The Damsel kindly asks that you dispose of any bad thoughts about that. This sub is not mean or cranky. On the contrary, she’s smart, sassy, and super nice. Here’s her bio, straight from her adorable website, The Clever Mommy:
Krystal lives in Colorado with her husband, a self-proclaimed broken hipster, and their son, whom they lovingly refer to as, The Bug. The list of things she loves includes (among other things) sewing, decorating, the Pacific Ocean, classic films, classic literature, cooking and baking, chocolate, shoes, and nail polish. She spends her days chasing after The Bug, picking up her husband’s wet towels and dirty socks, blogging, sewing, cooking, and trying to make her home as comfortable as she can.
See? The Damsel told you she was nice. Now then. The Clever Mommy.
There are few memories of my mother and myself in the kitchen that I remember with more fondness than the days that she would let me help her make tortillas. Of course helping was more like watching, but I didn’t know that then.
We would spend a few hours in the afternoon, while my brothers were outside playing, making a huge batch of soft delicious tortillas. They would be used in various meals during the week, and heated in a pan, topped with a little melted butter for snacks. She would tell me about how she learned to make them from the mother of one of her friends in school, who had come to the United States from Mexico. Inevitably the story would turn to the time that she was spending the night at that friend’s home and was asked to stir the soup that was cooking on the stove. I would cringe and giggle at the same time when she told me about the goat eye ball floating in the soup when she lifted the lid to stir. Apparently they didn’t waste any parts of the animal when they cooked.
These stories still float through my head as I make tortillas in my own home, without Mom. And the tortillas are still super soft and super delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I forsake my gluten-free diet every once in a while simply to make and eat these tortillas.
Authentic tortillas are made with lard. If you want a truly authentic flavor, you should use lard, too. I am a vegetarian, however, and the shortening that I use works just fine. I’ve even used butter in a pinch.
To make 18 tortillas, you’ll need the following ingredients:
3 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C. shortening (or lard)
3/4 C. HOT water (as hot as you can handle it)
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and then cut the shortening in with a pastry cutter or your hands. The mixture should look crumbly. If it’s not crumbly, and more resembles flour, you need to add a bit more shortening.
Add the hot water and mix with your hands or a fork (I’ve heard a stand mixer is great for using nearly boiling water without having to touch it). Press against the sides of the bowl to pick up all of the dough. If it’s sticking to the sides, you need to add a bit more flour. You should have a nice moist dough that can be formed into a ball.
Form the dough into 18 balls, and then let them rest, covered with a damp kitchen towel, for an hour.
Lightly flour your working surface, coat your rolling pin with flour, and roll out a dough ball until paper thin. It will not be perfectly round (unless you have some magical tortilla rolling powers that I lack).
Heat a frying pan (I prefer stainless steel) over medium heat, and place the tortilla in the pan. Let it cook until it starts to bubble up, about a minute, then flip it over.
Let it cook another minute or so, and place it in between two kitchen towels.
All of my kitchen towels were dirty, so I had to use paper towels. Don’t judge.
Continue the process with the remaining balls of dough, and stack them all in between the two towels. Store them in a large ziplock bag in the fridge to keep them soft. If they do get a bit hard, all it takes is a few seconds in the microwave or in a hot pan on the stove to make them soft and pliable again.