Adventures of the Yellow School Bus | STEP BY STEP RECIPE: "Are These Tortillas Homemade?" | Text and Photos by Candice Granger

In my house, if I say, "Who wants a tortilla?" All hands shoot up.  The tortilla is perfect for every meal....breakfast tacos, lunch wraps, dinner quesadillas.  In my opinion, you can't go wrong with the tortilla.


You can go wrong.

When you are not experiencing a soft, fluffy, warm, handmade tortilla you are doing it all wrong.  Why eat those flat, rubbery discs that are filled with all those preservatives and yucky stuff when it can be so easy to make your own at home?  I have searched, tweaked, and rewrote recipes over the years.  I have finally found one that I use over and over.  And by over and over, I mean like on a daily basis.
When I am at our local taco hut, I eat their tortillas like a crazy lady.  They are soooo good.  I would LOVE to make tortillas like Matamoras Taco House.  But, I am sad to say, I will never be able to make tortillas like the supple ones at Matamoras.  "Why?" you ask.  One word:  lard.  I just can't bring myself to buy it.  I think it is the sound of the word that keeps me from buying cases of the stuff.  Lard.  L-A-R-D.  It sounds so...fatty.  I immediately think of the dimples on my thighs.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I will eat the stuff, especially at Matamoras but I don't want to scoop it out of the tub and drop it my mixing bowl.  So, I make tortillas that are still soft, warm, light and chewy minus the lard but they still make folks ask, "Are these tortillas handmade?"

One thing you need to know about my cooking is that I am not a measure-it-to-the-line kind of girl.   A friend once told me, "I see a recipe as a mere suggestion that I can translate to my liking."  Wow.  I liked it and never looked back.  So, take this recipe as a mere suggestion.  If you think it is too wet, add more dry.  If it is too dry, add more wet.  If you don't like all purpose flour, use wheat instead. Make it your own.

OK, here goes.

This will make 8 tortillas.

You will need:
  • 2 cups of flour plus a little more for rolling out the tortillas
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup or so of milk
  • 1/4 or so of olive oil
  • A comal or pan to cook the tortillas on

I also use a Kitchen Aid mixer.  If you don't have a mixer, stop what you are doing RIGHT NOW and go buy one.  It doesn't have to be a fancy-pants Kitchen Aid mixer just a mixer that will help you in almost all baking recipes.  You owe it to yourself.  Go!  Go!

Now, that you are back from the store and have an awesome mixer, measure out 2 cups of flour into a bowl.  I use King Arthur flour.  I used to think that flour was flour but, boy-howdy, it isn't!  I promise I don't work for King Arthur but their flour works fantastic for me.  Give it a shot.  You might like it too!  So, I also make whole wheat tortillas.  I recommend using a blend of whole wheat and all purpose as opposed to 100% whole wheat.  Sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.  Start out using 25% wheat and 75% all purpose and climb the whole wheat ladder from there.  No one skips a beat when I use 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups of all purpose.  That is pretty normal around here.  Experiment with it.  Posts some tips if you find what works for you!  I would be interested!

Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the bowl with the flour.

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder to the bowl with the flour and the salt.

Warm up 1/2 to 3/4 cup of milk in the microwave for about 15 seconds.  Warming the milk up helps to activate the baking soda resulting in lighter tortillas. Yummy. 

Add the milk to the flour, salt, baking powder mix.

Measure out a 1/4 cup or so of olive oil.

Add it to the mix.  I also put my bread hook attachment on the mixer. 

Start your engines!  Don't go all crazy on high or anything.  I mix it on #2 for a minute or so. 

I thought this looked a little dry... it wasn't pulling in and making a big ball around the dough hook.

So I added maybe a 1/8 cup of milk and/or olive oil.  I suggest adding a tablespoon at a time.  It can go too wet FAST.  If that happens, add more flour a tablespoon at a time until you like what you see.

This consistency was acceptable.

I pulled it out of the bowl and slapped it down on a floured surface.

I smack it into a floured ball of yummy dough.  At this point, I have two kids asking me for tiny pieces of dough.  I drop tiny balls into their tiny mouths like the little baby birds they are and continue on...

At this point, I get the comal (or you could use a pan) out and warm it up on high for the cookin'!

To get tortillas that are a little bit the same size, I take the dough and divide into 8 pieces.  
First in half.

Then the halves in half.

Then the those 4 quarters in halves.  Viola!  8 pieces!  I am so proud!

Now I take those rough pieces and make discs out of them.  This might take some practice but if you can divide the ball up into 8 equal pieces, you can do this too!

They end up looking something like this... you just want round discs.

Take one of those discs, smack it on a floured surface.

Start rolling it out.

When you roll out the tortilla, it becomes long.  Rotate it at this point so that is wider than longer and roll that out.  That will get you a round shape as opposed to a long oval.

You might need to sprinkle some flour on your dough if it is sticky.  I like it when it sticks to the counter a bit because it helps roll it out.

This looks good.

Brush off the extra flour or it will burn on the comal and smoke HORRIBLY.

The comal has been warming up a bit and is hot, hot, hot!  Lay the tortilla gently on the comal.

Once those bubbles start happening, you are ready to flip!

Flip it over! 

I let it cook only a short time on this side -just to give it some color.  Then I take it off and put on another.  While one is cooking, I roll out the other tortillas.  This makes the process go super fast. You just have to be able to roll them out as fast as you can cook'em.   
Don't shake your head!  
You can do this!

Don't use your fingers.  I know that sounds like a no-brainer but sometimes I lack a brain and have burnt my fingers trying to be all cool.  Cool people have burned fingers.

It will smell SO good in your house right now!

Yummy, yummy!  Ready for some chicken fajitas!

Our sweet little helper made guacamole while I made the tortillas.

Dinner is served! 

What do you think?  Are you going to try it? 

  Anything you make will be way better than what you can buy in the grocery store. 
Do it!  You will never go back!

Candice Granger and her super cute brood call home (and art studio!) to a 16+ acre homestead in Gonzales County. They live in a converted yellow school bus with a large cast of furry characters including sheep, goats, chickens and 1 sassy donkey named Choncho. Candice focuses her many talents towards 'healthy and homemade.' Candice is an artist, home-schooling teacher & mother, and partner to her potter husband Jim Bob.

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