Making my own corn tortillas was always something that I found intimidating. I was convinced that a tortilla press was necessary and without one I wouldn’t bother. Instead opting to buy premade corn tortillas which are almost always disappointing, too dry, too thick and often cracking upon consumption. But this past winter my partner and I spent a few months traveling around Mexico, and my view on homemade tortillas was forever changed. All of a sudden my eyes were opened to what a handmade tortilla could be.
With corn being an integral part of Mexican culture you could smell fresh corn tortillas wafting through the streets. Little mexican ladies selling bags of homemade tortillas sat on street corners, tortillas hand turned on hot comals in nearly every restaurant and food stand. Most places we went tortilla presses were used, but when staying with some extended family every morning we were welcomed by the presence of hand pounded tortillas, no press, no rolling pin, just the palm of a hand used to make the most perfect tortillas. I needed to make these back home, I simply had no choice.
Little did we know these would soon become a weekly staple. With the reassurance from several mexican mujeres that I could surely make tortillas on my own, I made it a goal to master them. With a cast iron skillet and some masa harina, homemade tortillas are just a few easy steps away. They are a bit of a time commitment, but in the end you will have deliciously soft and pliable corn tortillas ready to serve as a vessel for whatever your heart desires. They really are worth it and I encourage you to give it a go. They are fun to make with a bunch of friends or family assinging each person a different task (rolling the dough balls, rolling the tortillas and cooking them to perfection)!
- 2 cups Masa Harina
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cup warm water
In a large bowl mix the masa harina and salt together. Stir in water and knead with your hands until dough comes together and is slightly tacky (think play-doh, it should be moist, but not wet).
If you are new to making tortillas I suggest making a test tortilla to see the consistency and then adjust dough if necessary (ie. if the dough is too dry they will crack and won’t hold together, if the dough is too wet it will stick to your plastic sheets).
Roll dough into 1″ balls and set aside covered with a damp cloth. Place a ball of dough between two sheets of plastic (a freezer bag cut along the seams is what I use to create my sheets of plastic) or *parchment paper and press into a disc using the bottom of a pot or frying pan.
Using a rolling pin, working from the middle of the disc of dough outward, turning the dough by 90 degrees with each roll. Continue to do this until the tortilla as thin as you can get it without it tearing. Do not fret if the tortillas are not perfectly round, in all honesty they are going to taste amazing no matter what shape!
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla (or as many as your cast iron can hold) and cook for 30 seconds, flip and cook for another 10 seconds or so and then place in a dish cloth to keep warm and moist. Continue until all of your tortillas are cooked. Enjoy them fresh!
In the unlikely event that you have left over tortillas, simply place them in a plastic bag and keep in the fridge, they are best eaten fresh but should keep for a few days. To reheat, wrap them in a damp dish cloth and microwave at 30 second intervals until they are heated through.
*I have also used both parchment paper and plastic sheets and have found that I can get the tortillas a little bit thinner with the plastic sheets.