Flour tortillas are a staple food in northern Mexico. Contrary to what some may think, they are not an American invention. They are authentically Mexican. With the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in 1519 came the import and cultivation of wheat. The Spanish preferred wheat over corn, which was the main starch used by the indigenous people to make tortillas. And so a wheat version of tortillas was made.
Flour tortillas flourished in the northern states of Mexico because the land is particularly suited for growing wheat. A flour tortilla in Mexico is very different from a Tex-Mex version or what you might get at Taco Bell. It is buttery, thin, but pliable, and of course are best when homemade. So how do you make authentic flour tortillas at home? You will need:
All-purpose flour works best, but you can also make whole wheat tortillas by using whole wheat flour or a mixture of wheat bran and wheat germ.
Traditionally they are made with pork lard, but vegan butter or vegetable shortening work just as well.
Warm water is critical for making tortillas.
Some recipes call for using baking powder to get the tortillas to puff up on the comal.
Making tortillas is quite easy; all it takes is a little bit of time and practice. To make your tortillas, place the flour, baking powder, and fat in a large bowl. Use your hands or a fork to incorporate the fat into the flour, until it resembles coarse meal. Slowly add the water until a soft dough forms. Knead for a couple of minutes, then let rest for 30 – 45 minutes.
Divide the dough into small balls and roll until very thin. Place on a hot comal and watch the magic happen. Your tortillas should be thin, light, rich, and delicious.
Finally, if you are looking for recipes that are the real deal, then look no further than this flour tortilla recipe by Mexico in My Kitchen, and this recipe for whole wheat flour tortillas by Mexican Food Journal. Enjoy!