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Flour-corn tortillas

July 7, 2013

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This is a non-traditional tortilla that blends wheat flour and corn masa for an interesting combination of flavor and texture.   A friend of mine mentioned the idea to me some time ago and recently I picked up a package of “Mitad y Mitad” (half and half) tortillas at the specialty supermarket to give them a try.  They were ok, not bad at all I felt,  but the ratio of flour to corn masa left them thin and little dense for my taste.  I would prefer them to be more like a flour tortilla with some of the corn taste,  one with  a little fluff to it,  one that stays nice and pliable,  a balanced blend of both worlds.  These past several days have found me trying out different ratios of flour and masa harina (and running out of room in my refrigerator storing the trial runs!).  The birds around my neighborhood will find an easy meal the next several days.  I concluded that there is not a single magic formula because it depends what you desire from it.   My favorite ratio is 1 2/3 cup wheat flour to 2/3 cup masa harina.  I became fond of substituting 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour for 1/3 cup of the all-purpose flour.     White whole wheat flour is not as  bitter or strong tasting as the usual whole wheat variety.  It let the corn flavor of the masa harina come through just fine.   (You can substitute the white whole flour with all purpose flour though you may need a slight adjustment on the amount of water you use.)  This tortilla blends nicely with all kinds of Tex-Mex, Mexican or Southwestern flavors.  You might also try adding ground dried chile for a variation.   2 teaspoons per 2 cups of dry ingredients is a good starting place depending on the potency of the chile.  If you give these a go, or come up with a different version, I would be very interested to hear about it!

Making excellent tortillas requires a certain touch that either comes naturally to one,  is learned as it is passed down from generation to generation,  or is picked up through trial and error. I’m still working on it. My grandmother had that magic touch and made it look easy.  She never measured out the ingredients and yet her tortillas  were consistent with the flavor and feel that I loved.  I wonder what she would have thought about all these new-fangled versions of tortillas.  The east Austin,  Mexican neighborhood where she made her home and kept the extended family together was a totally different time and place than what it is today.  Even whole wheat tortillas would have been way out there for her…  Tortilla recipes  are  rough guides.  Flours vary  in protein or softness from one brand to the next, or especially from one country to another.  You have to keep at it until you develop a sense of how much liquid is just enough.  Too much and the tortilla will have some gummy patches to it. Too dry and they will become brittle and crack when rolled or folded. To make it a little more complicated,  tortilla dough made with masa harina wants to dry out quicker.  Keep the dough covered.  Don’t get discouraged if you are new to tortilla making and they don’t come out quite as you hoped.  It’ll take time to really acquire the knack. It reminds me of the book “Zen and the Art of Archery” by  Eugen Herrigel .  The student archer’s goal/non goal is to become one with the target and lose awareness of the meticulous act of shooting the arrow. At least, that’s how I rationally understand it.

 

For about 10 tortillas

1  cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup white whole wheat flour

2/3 cup masa harina

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup vegetable shortening (4 tablespoons)

about 3/4  cup warm water

 

Put the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix  together.  Add the shortening and distribute it very thoroughly into the flour mixture.  Make sure there are not any lumps or coarse size bits of shortening remaining.  Add most of the water to begin to form the dough.  Add more water if needed to form a somewhat moist dough.  Remove it to a cutting board and knead for a few minutes until it is smooth. Add more flour or water as needed. Divide it into about 10 equal portions and roll them each into a ball. Cover well with plastic or a wet cloth and let them rest for about 45 minutes. Pre-heat your griddle or heavy pan to medium.  On a lightly floured work surface,  roll out one of the portions with a rolling pin to a thin round shape.  Very lightly oil the pan or griddle. Place the rolled out dough on the griddle,  it should lightly sizzle when it hits the pan,  and cook for about 1 minute. Flip it over and continue for another minute or so.  Store it in a kitchen cloth as you continue with the rest.

If the tortillas are coming out a little hard or brittle,  it could be that your pan or comal (griddle) is too hot or the dough was not moist enough.  Also,  they will thicken up somewhat as they cook, but should have a tender and pliable texture.  Make sure you are rolling them out thin enough.

For those not familiar with masa harina,  it is a “flour” made from corn that has gone through a process where the hull is removed before grinding.  It can usually be found in the baking section of the supermarket.  Corn flour will not work for this recipe.   I also tried using  fresh corn masa straight from a tortilleria, tortilla factory,  but decided to keep with the masa harina since it is more accessible.

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These simple quesadillas are stuffed with fire-roasted Anaheim chiles and Oaxacan cheese. I wish you could have joined me.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2013 11:07 pm

    Oh man, oh Yeah! Great post! Very inspiring as always!!!

    • July 7, 2013 11:09 pm

      Thanks Roberto, I think it was you who had told me about this combo of masa for tortillas. Btw, I was listening to your cd “Atl” today. Beautiful!

  2. February 25, 2014 8:30 pm

    I bought masa harina and made tortillas in my 6″ cast iron pan about a year or two ago. They came out well but they didn’t have any corn flavor. Is that normal or do you think the masa was old? I bought it at Meijer supermarket.

  3. February 25, 2014 9:37 pm

    Hi Marcella, In my opinion, Corn tortillas don’t have an overwhelming corn flavor. The corn is dried and then goes through a process to remove the outer shell, it’s a different corn than the corn-on-a-cob variety. I couldn’t tell you exactly how the taste differs from the ear of corn we enjoy, but I would guess it’s not as sweet. It’s really amazing how much work is involved to get from the field to the final masa product though, especially if done by hand.

    Maybe a store near you sells freshly made masa. There is no need to add water, only a little for adjustment.if at all. I don’t think the age of the dried masa harina makes much difference. Also, I don’t believe any particular brand is much better than any others. .

    • April 28, 2014 4:56 pm

      I will keep my eye out for the freshly made version. Maybe Walmart sells it.

      • May 2, 2014 9:18 pm

        Wal-mart just may have some. If your town has a tortilla factory it’s very likely they would have some for sale. I get it at the factory because it is very near my house and there is no middle man. The supermarket near my neighborhood also has it. It’s only advantage is that I can get it there on Sundays.

      • May 3, 2014 4:38 pm

        Not to change the subject, but have you ever heard of Portuguese chorizo? (I think that’s right.) I read about it some time ago and went to the Mexican area in Indy (one Mexican supermarket and one mom & pop grocery store) but they had every brand (including fresh) but what I wanted. I tried 3 different types, including fresh, but I just didn’t care for them – too much vinegar in the fresh one. Just wondering.

  4. May 3, 2014 5:46 pm

    No, that’s a new one on me, I haven’t heard of Portuguese style chorizo, fresh or cured. I wonder if it’s similar to the Spanish variety.

  5. Kara permalink
    July 7, 2014 12:27 am

    Thank you for this delicious recipe! This combo of flours was exactly what I was looking forin a tortilla. The dough is easy to work with, and the end product is very flavorful.

    • July 7, 2014 12:49 am

      Hi Kara, I’m glad it worked for you! Did you use white whole wheat flour or did you stay with the all purpose?
      Thank you very much for trying out the recipe and commenting!
      Gerard

      • Kara permalink
        July 7, 2014 12:56 am

        I used all 3 kinds, as written. Perfect mix. I also want to say that though I have been making all of my bread for a few years (yeast, quick, and sourdoughs of all kinds), for some reason I was still buying tortillas. So, now I am over that hurdle. Thanks!

    • July 7, 2014 1:45 am

      Great! White whole wheat flour doesn’t seem to be very popular.
      It’s hard to go back to store bought flour tortillas, and now I’m trying to make corn tortillas more often. Like you I don’t buy mass produced bread either. It sounds like you know how to make a mean loaf of bread!
      Thanks again!

  6. ElizaBeth permalink
    October 12, 2015 12:09 am

    Haven’t found the corn / flour tortillas half n half mix anywhere in South Ga. So may have to make my own. Portuguese chorizo is a New England found sausage, very tasty. Gaspar’s is the brand famous for it. We use it in Jag a Capeverdian rice and beans dish.
    BTW King Arthur’s brand puts out a nice white whole wheat flour I use often.

    • October 12, 2015 1:05 am

      Hi! Thank you very much for visiting and following! The flour/corn tortillas available in my area are made by a Texas supermarket chain. I don’t think they’ve made it to Ga. yet! I don’t know who else makes them. Please let me know how these go for you if you try them… I’ve only ever used King’ Arthur’s white whole wheat flour and usually go with them for my other flour needs. As far as masa harina, it’s either Quaker or Maseca though I’m sure other brands would work just fine. Thanks for the tips!

  7. Carol K. permalink
    January 11, 2016 5:23 pm

    Hi, Thanks for this – can’t wait to try these! I was searching online for a recipe for flour/masa tortillas since my local grocery chain stopped selling Chi-Chis tortillas made with the wheat flour & corn combination. I liked them because I do not really care much for corn tortillas but these had both some corn flavor plus the softness and the texture I wanted for my tacos and enchiladas. Being an older gringo woman in the Midwest, not raised on authentic Mexican (or even good Tex-Mex!) food, my palate probably is pretty warped. 🙂 These sound good! I did go out & buy a whole bag of masa harina today that likely will last me a lifetime since I am the only one eating these tortillas… And, by the way, I think masa *can* go “off” with age. That which I used recently to add a bit of body to my chili (as I have done for decades), has been in my pantry for years (yes, really) and smelled not quite right. I should have trusted my nose and not used it because it did indeed spoil the flavor of the pot of chili. (Ate it anyway, of course.) I use the masa in the chili the same way I add cornstarch (corn flour to some) in gravy, etc. – putting a few tablespoons into a cup & adding water to make a slurry before adding it to the pot of chili. Just seems to bind things together nicely. I have divvied up my new bagful into 2 half-gallon canning jars & vacuum-sealed them with my Foodsaver thingy. Hopefully this masa will remain fresh longer for me! Of course, I expect this recipe will be so successful I will use the stuff MUCH more often!

    • January 12, 2016 2:40 am

      Hi, I hope these tortillas work out well for you. Tortillas can be a little tricky to get right. It took me a few tries to get the hang of it! In the recipe I mention lightly oiling the skillet. Just use a drop of two if you need to. You can get away with using no oil. You don’t want the tortillas to feel oily…. I didn’t know masa harina could get an off flavor. I’ve had flours go bad on me, but I guess I haven’t held masa harina long enough for it to lose it’s freshness… I’ve used it as a flavor enhancer in thick soups but not in a slurry. That sounds like a very good idea! I must try that! It does give a very nice Mexican flavor, doesn’t it. Another thing I haven’t tried is using it to make roux. I’m curious if it would bind properly with oil to make a good roux.
      Thank you for visiting and commenting. Please let me know how they turn out for you!

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