Over the past year or so I have really tried to make it a point to make all of my own breads, sauces, marinades, and even cheeses (though I can only make a few at this point). With the amount of time that I have and the money it saves me, along with the unmatched freshness and control of flavor, bread making has really been a big pay off. As you can probably tell, with this big Mexican cooking month I am having, I have been making a lot of tortillas, corn mostly.
Corn tortillas are probably one of the easiest bread like (anything that serves the purpose of bread) foods I have ever attempted to make. Though it has taken me a handful of attempts and varying recipes, if you are looking for a place to start making your own of something, the corn tortilla is the perfect start.
The first, and essentially only thing that you need that you don’t already have is Masa, which is essentially just corn flour. There are all different types of corn flour, each one has its purpose, but the kind you are looking for, and the most readily available at most grocery stores and bodegas is Maseca Corn Flour and it looks like this:
There are probably different versions out there but I find that around here (NYC) Maseca is sort of like Sriracha (The Japanese chili sauce with the green top) in that there is really only one brand readily available. All that you need besides the masa is salt and water, that is it! As you can see my tortillas are a bluish color, that is only because I colored them, but normally they would look just like any other yellow corn tortilla.
Recipe for Corn Tortillas
Yields 10-12 Tortillas
2 Cups of Masa
1 teaspoon of salt
1.5-2 cups of warm water
Plastic wrap or parchment paper
First, place the masa into a large bowl and mix them together. Then slowly add warm water to the mixture with one hand while mixing the flour it with the other. This is the only part you want to play around with in terms of how much water you will use. Keep mixing until the batter turns into a dough ball and sticks together. Once the consistency feels solid, and a little sticky but so that it does not annoyingly stick to your hand, knead the ball of dough for a few minutes until it is smooth and uniform.
Preheat a griddle or pan to medium/medium high heat. Rip off golf ball sized pieces and form them into small balls, you should end up with about 10-12. For the next step you can either use a tortilla press, which I recommend if you start making lots of tortillas because they are cheap and easy, or a rolling pin. Take two pieces of plastic wrap and place a dough ball in between the plastic wrap. Squash the ball down with your hand a little bit to start the shape and then begin rolling the dough with a rolling pin (or wine bottle if you don’t have one), which is inside the plastic wrap (to avoid sticking). Roll out the dough into as best a circle as you can so it is thin like a tortilla, but not too thin. Then carefully, one by one, take the tortilla out of the plastic wrap and place it on the hot pan without any oil or butter. Cook each tortilla for a few minutes on each side, checking until it just starts to brown up a little.
Making corn tortillas is that easy. Typically by rule I rarely get anything right the first time but when I spend a few days working on something or give it 2-3 shots, by the end I have a pretty good end product.