Corn tortillas are unheard of here. Not surprising since producing the masa (bleached corn meal) for the tortillas is a high energy and high polluting process. Millions of liters of water in Mexico City are polluted each day with the calcium hydroxide (limewater) solution needed to produce the masa. Little wonder that Uruguay would not wish to produce corn tortillas for a population that really has no taste for them.
However, a few years ago, flour tortillas began to show up in the markets. A few mexican restaurants have even sprung up, though to be honest, the food doesn't really taste like California. We recently went into town and had a burrito at the California Burrito Company in Old Town (pictured left). It was OK, but nothing to write home about. The "corn chips" pictured below were vile- really. Obviously made from regular corn meal and attempting to pass for corn tortilla chips.
Up until recently, I have been satisfied with buying flour tortillas from Tienda Inglesa (our local giant supermarket). But 2 weeks ago I couldn't find the better brand ("Bimbos", if you can believe that) and had to buy another type. They look perfectly flat and gave the appearance of being made of cardboard, but I wanted tacos and so I bought them. When I got them home and used them, I realized that cardboard would have been an improvement. So, I wondered if I could make flour tortillas, myself. For years, in Seattle, we had made corn tortillas, since masa is readily available there. We had a cast iron tortilla press and cast iron griddles. So I looked into flour tortillas.
Interestingly, flour tortillas are very easy to make and despite the fact that this was my first effort, they came out surprisingly well. Here is what you need:
- 2 cups of white flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup warm water
I found this recipe that had the lowest amount of oil. Other recipes used as much as 1/3 cup. I mixed the dry ingrediants in a bowl and slowly added the water and oil mixture until it formed a crumbly, wet dough.
Then you form it into a ball on a lightly flour dusted surface, knead for 4-5 minutes and cover with a cloth for 20 minutes to let the dough rest.
You then pinch off golf ball sized bits of the dough, roll them round and cover them for another 10 minutes.
After that, you flatten them on the surface by hand to about 4", then roll them out with a rolling pin to about 7" or 1/8" thick. I actually didn't roll my thin enough, so they were closer to pita bread, but still came out fine.
Cook them on a hot griddle (or cast iron pan) until they bubble and brown (about 30+ seconds each side) and plot them on a plate.
They were fresh, warm and did not taste a bit like cardboard. Plus, I don't have to drive or walk into town and buy them, I use items I always keep on hand, so Denise and I can enjoy fresh warm tortillas whenever we want.