Flour Tortillas – Personal Kitchen Challenge #10

I keep hearing how easy tortillas are to make.  I remember once, probably 20 years ago, making homemade tortillas using a store-bought mix – and they were terrible!  Super thick, very dry, with tons of flour coating both sides.  I’m sure it was user error, but I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that tortillas were difficult to make.  But I figured, let’s try it again.

Problem 1 – Most of the recipes I found included lard or shortening, neither of which I can get here.  I’ve substituted butter for shortening before, but wanted to see if I could find a recipe that didn’t include those ingredients.

I found this one, which used Olive Oil.  I love olive oil, so decided to try it.

Tortilla dough swimming in oil...

Tortilla dough swimming in oil…

After letting it sit for 30 minutes, I came back to discover a very wet roll of dough surrounded by a pool of olive oil.  I figured that was a bad sign, but decided to forge ahead.  I cut the dough into equal peices, rolled them out (I don’t have a tortilla press), and used the cast-iron as suggested to cook the tortillas.


The verdict?  Not…great.  Not terrible, but not something I want to make again.  They came out rather flavorless, a little brittle, and were not really great to use for burritos.  They actually reminded me a lot of the mandarin pancakes I made a while back.

Mexican food in Finland is…not great.  Finding Mexican food seems easy enough – there’s half an aisle dedicated to salsa and tortillas and tortilla chips and spices.  But one of the key ingredients – Monterrey Jack Cheese – doesn’t exist here.  I briefly considered trying to make my own, but I couldn’t even get the ingredients I needed to make my own.  I went to the local health food store, and the owner was incredibly helpful, even calling a local cheesemaker to find out where I could get the ingredients, but one or more of the chemicals or whatever (either the calcium chloride or the rennet tablets) do not exist here.  So I made do with kermajusto, a soft white cheese, for a while.  Lately, I’ve been able to get real, honest-to-God red-wax yellow cheddar at the market (harder to get than you might think!), and I’ve been doing about half and half of the cheddar and the kermajusto.

Even with the wrong cheese, salsa that never seems quite right, and store-bought tortillas, the Mexican food I make at home is fifty times better than the “Mexican Food” they serve in the restaurants around here.  Still, I’d love to make my own tortillas, tortillas that taste great.

I figure I’ll try making tortillas one more time, using a different recipe.  Anyone have any winners?  How about you, Tracie?  I know you make your own, care to share the recipe?

I’m intentionally challenging myself in the kitchen, working with new ingredients, attempting more challenging dishes, and doing it all while grocery shopping in a foreign language.  Read more about my Personal Kitchen Challenge here.

Categories: Food, Personal Kitchen Challenge | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Flour Tortillas – Personal Kitchen Challenge #10

    • Thanks Paula! I’m going to give Tracie’s recipe (below) a try first, then I might try it with this one. Maybe the vegetable oil will be better than the olive oil… :-/

  1. wow sorry to hear about your last batch! holy swimming in olive oil!
    hahaha look at me all showing up in your challenge!

    i hope my recipe goes better for you! the flour sure can be tricky in recipes here!
    usually i need to cut the flour back by a few tablespoons or more in a non-eu recipe. it’s all trial and error and personal taste!

    our friday night tortillas

    2 3/4 c flour (puolikarkea vehnäjauho)

    3/4 c milk (warmed)

    3/4 tsp salt

    1/2 tsp baking powder

    5 T (75g) veg shortening (leivontamargariini) sunnuntai brand. it’s my ‘crisco’ substitute.

    mix well but be careful not to over mix or the dough will not be as tender and bubbly when you cook them. (lived and learned)

    rest at least 30 minutes on counter covered in cello.

    if you make ahead and refrigerate dough, it must be at room temp or it will be poop. (again, lived. learned.)
    divide dough into balls. pat into shape. if you need use a little extra flour.

    roll out with rolling pin as thin as i can get them. this is a little work. if i had a tortilla press it would be quick work.

    heat pan. it needs to be really HOT!

    NO OIL!

    they should bubble up like mad!

    brown flip, brown. eat!

    good luck!
    xx t-

    • Thank you!! I’ll give this a try. Also, thanks for telling me which flour to use – the flour aisle still scares me! 🙂 I’ll let you know how it goes-

      • the flour isle still scares me too! you are not alone!
        a little tip also when you use baking powder… our american baking powder is double acting so results are never quite as fluffy in texture as the baking powder here. it’s one of the things i stocked up from home for cakes and baked goods. it really does make a difference! 🙂

        • I had heard that the baking powder was different, but I haven’t noticed any issues. Of course, I don’t use it too often. I should probably bake more…

  2. I’m having some masa and some dried corn husks sent from home after a little while. Perhaps you and I could team up to try our hand at homemade tamales sometime in the coming year.

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