According to Mayan legend, the first tortilla was made as a gift to a king in 10,000 B.C. Since then, tortillas have become a necessity in the Mexican diet, making up more than half of the protein and calories consumed daily by the poor. They are also popular in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine in the United States. This recipe yields about 12 large flour tortillas.
Things You'll Need
Combine the salt, baking powder, and 4 cups of flour in a large mixing bowl, and mix them together with a wire whisk. Add the shortening to the bowl and mix it in with your hands.
Mix the half-and-half with the water in a separate bowl, and then pour it into the flour mixture. Use your hands to squeeze the dough together repeatedly, until a stiff ball is formed.
Transfer the dough to a clean, flat surface and knead it for about five minutes, or until it becomes elastic, smooth and firm. Form the dough into a ball again, and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap.
Let the dough ball rest at room temperature for one hour, and then unwrap the dough. Cut the dough in half and roll each piece into a log roughly 9 inches long.
Cut the logs into numerous 1½-inch sections, and then roll each section into a small ball. Gather all the dough balls together, and then cover with plastic wrap and allow them to rest for eight to 10 minutes.
Coat a flat surface with a small amount of flour, and place one dough ball on the surface. Use your hands to flatten the ball into a circle about 4 inches in diameter. Use a rolling pin to flatten out the dough as evenly as possible, adding more flour as necessary to prevent sticking.
Continue until the dough is 8 to 9 inches in diameter and only about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the tortilla to a piece of wax paper and place another piece of wax paper on top of it. Continue until all of the dough balls are tortillas sandwiched between wax paper.
Place a large skillet over medium heat and warm for two to three minutes. Pour oil into the skillet and carefully coat the entire surface with it. Set a tortilla onto the skillet. Several large bubbles should form on the surface.
Cook the tortilla for about 30 seconds, and then check the bottom. When the bottom is covered with golden spots, flip the tortilla over, and reduce heat if necessary.
Cook the second side of the tortilla for about 30 seconds, or until done. Transfer it from the skillet to a plate and cover with a clean towel. Repeat for each tortilla, stacking them up under the towel until they are all finished.
If the weather is humid in your area, dust the wax paper and tortilla with flour to prevent tortillas from sticking together.
If the tortilla starts to puff up while cooking, use a clean towel to tap it back down. If the bubble becomes too large, it could pop and ruin the tortilla.
References and Resources"A Baker's Odyssey: Celebrating Time-Honored Recipes from America's Rich Immigrant Heritage," by Greg Patent, Kelly Gorham and Dave McLean; 2007
Making flour tortillas