Homemade Flour Tortillas

OK, so I know that making tortillas at home probably seems totally over the top and crazy to some people. They are so easy to buy at the store and usually used for quick and easy dinners, why would you increase the difficulty?? And at one point in my life I totally would have agreed with you. But, not anymore! First of all, they are not NEARLY as difficult as I thought they would be. I was so surprised the first time I made them. My food processor did most of the hard work for me. Second, the taste and the texture. Seriously, no comparison. I don’t think I can even accurately describe how much better than store bought tortillas. Third, you can freeze them! If you have a weekend with just a few extra minutes then you can make a nice big batch and place them in a freezer. Then they are still grab and go for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.

I first made these tortillas about a year ago when we were living in China (actually, a few of the process pictures are from China!). I was really pushed to make them because, like many things at the import food store, the bag of tortillas I saw every week  on the shelf never seemed to move and was probably months old. And I had a craving for burritos! Now I make them because I love them. Over the past year I’ve become more and more comfortable with the process. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

  • I’ve tried all butter, all Crisco, a combination of the two, and a combination of butter and oil. Hands down the combination of half butter half Crisco is my favorite. In my opinion, it yields the best texture and taste.
  • A lot of recipes say to roll out all of the tortillas and then cook all of the tortillas. I find that I have the best flow when I roll a tortilla and then cook it, and while it is cooking I start to roll the next one. I use the counter space right next to my stove so I am able to roll and keep an eye on the tortilla at the same time. Of course you’ll just have to see which flow works better for you.
  • It’s important to have enough flour to keep the tortillas from sticking (and this helps them keep a better shape, too!) but careful not to use too much, because the raw flour will start to scorch in the pan.
  • If you think you’ve rolled them thin enough, roll them just a little thinner. You’ll be surprised how much the plump up.
  • I have also successfully used half all-purpose and half whole-wheat flour (as you can tell in a few of the process pictures)


Delicious ways to use your tortillas

BBQ Pork Tenderloin Wraps
Best Fajita Marinade
Rolled Tacos (divide the dough into 18 or 20 instead of 12 to get smaller tortillas)

American Sandwich Bread

Well kids, I’m baaack! After an exhausting 36 hours of traveling, I arrived back in Suzhou early Sunday morning. I settled my luggage in and then we headed out to grocery store. I had pretty high hopes for myself that I would be able to make dinner Sunday night – instead I took a “short” nap at 2:00. At 7:00 I forced myself to at least move to the living room, where I promptly fell asleep again. I guess I needed it.

The good news is that by Monday morning I was feeling much better – and ready to get back into the kitchen! Because I looooove the smell of fresh baked bread, because I’m a sucker for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and because it was Monday and just seemed like the right thing to do, I made a loaf of American style sandwich bread.

If you are looking for a good sandwich bread, this recipe is it. The crumb is dense and sturdy enough for any sandwich, but the taste is still light and fresh. I have a feeling this bread will be making a weekly appearance in my kitchen.

American Sandwich Bread

3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm whole milk (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
2 1/4 tsp (1 envelope) rapid rise yeast

*The “big move” meant leaving behind my beloved standing mixer, so for now I’m hand kneading and mixing. I will still include the directions for using a standing mixer, though. Let’s face it, it can be done by hand but it’s way easier with a mixer!
Prepare an oven by heating to 200 degrees. Once it has reached 200 degrees allow to heat for another 10 minutes then, turn the oven off. This warm oven will the perfect environment for rising dough.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together 3 1/2 cups of flour and 2 teaspoons salt. In a 2 cup measuring cup, mix together the warm milk, water, melted butter, honey, and yeast. When the yeast has dissolved and started to foam, fit the standing mixer with a dough hook. With the mixer on slow speed, pour the liquid into the flour. Once the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and allow to knead for at least 5 minutes. Adding more flour a tablespoon at a time, if necessary. If mixing by hand, create a well in the center of the flour and pour the liquid in. Use a wooden spoon to stir together until it becomes too difficult, then use your hands. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. When the dough is smooth and elastic form it into a ball.

Place the dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the warmed oven. Allow to rise for 40-50 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a few seconds then form into an 8-inch square. Starting with the edge furthest away from you, roll the dough into a cylinder. Turn the cylinder seam side up and pinch all along the seam. Place the dough into a lightly greased bread pan seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free, place, for 20-30 minutes.

While the dough is rising preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a baking dish with 2-cups of water and place on the bottom rack in the oven.

Bake the bread until an instant read thermometer reads 195 degrees, about 40-50 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.

Source: What’s Cooking Chicago originally from The New Best Recipe