Homemade Flour Tortillas

Flour tortillas – oooh how I love thee! Your soft, pliable curves, your tender nibblish folds. The way you bring a host of disparate elements into one unified form. You make life so deliciously easy, so healthy, so…. So why am I going on and on about my love of flour tortillas? Well, like every woman who lusts from afar, I’ve got it bad for something I can’t have.

Most low-sodium dieters know. Store-bought flour tortillas are pretty much out on a salt-free diet. Commercial brands range in the hundreds of milligrams of sodium per tortilla, and many of those have ingredients I can’t even recognize, let alone pronounce. Years ago I found an alternative in Garden City Lavash. These are large tortilla-like wraps sold at many Whole Foods markets, and with less than 50 mgs per serving in either white or whole wheat, they’re a dream.

But what if you don’t have a Whole Foods nearby? There are always corn tortillas, which average a mere 12 mg sodium. But if you’re like me and really prefer flour tortillas to corn, why not make your own?

Making your own flour tortillas isn’t hard. It is however a bit time consuming, so best saved for a day when you can be leisurely and really enjoy yourself. If you have a silpat with pre-measured circles, you can make such flawless flour tortillas no one will be able to tell the difference between yours and the store-bought kind. Mine? Well, let’s just say I don’t own a silpat. So perhaps some of my tortillas came out a bit less than round. More like amoebas. But boy did they taste good!

Somehow I’d imagined there was some trick to making them, that homemade tortillas wouldn’t have the same soft chew of the packaged kind. Although mine were a little less perfect looking than their store-bought brethren, in taste there was no noticeable difference. And the weird shapes only added to their charm. This homemade flour dough is soft and workable and the creative process was really fun, especially if you’re someone drawn to tactile experiences. The kneading, rolling and cooking make you feel very “real” in the very best sense of the word. I could almost picture myself flipping these outside over an open fire. Okay – not quite. But maybe next time.

Huge thanks to Sue Tweeton and her marvelous blog PLEASE, Don’t Pass the Salt! for this recipe. I’ve reproduced it below; please direct all praise her way!

Yields 10 tortillas.

SODIUM CONTENT: 58 mg per tortilla with salt; scant trace without

INGREDIENTS:

2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt (you can omit this altogether)
1/4 c. vegetable shortening
1 t. Featherweight sodium free baking powder (sold at Whole Foods markets and online)
1/2 c. WARM water (may need a bit more)

DIRECTIONS:

Place flour, salt, baking powder in food processor and pulse to mix. Cut in shortening and then add the WARM water; process to make a soft dough. Dough should be soft but not wet and sticky. (Shambo’s note: I needed to add about 1-2 tablespoons extra water.) Wrap dough in plastic and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 10 equal pieces and shape into balls. Keep covered. Let the dough balls rest for about 15-20 minutes. Roll each ball out into a 7-9 inch circle. Dough should be thin.

Cook on a dry hot grill or frying pan on medium heat, turning once.

Do not overcook or they will be hard. (Shambo’s note: I generally cook them about 25 -30 seconds per side. I use a timer. However, once you’ve got a few brown spots on the 2nd side, it’s time to remove them from the heat.) Stack the tortillas with waxed paper or parchment between them to keep layers separate. Use immediately or store in a zip-top plastic bag for freshness.

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