Fajitas, burritos, quesadillas. What do these all have in common? That’s right, tortillas. These beautifully soft flatbreads are so much easier to make than I had previously thought, and with a few basic ingredients you can make them faster than you can say the words “no entiendo español”.
I made these tortillas as part of a recipe for vegan burritos I was following, and so I decided to go full vegan and make sure the tortillas were free of any animal products as well. Traditionally, tortillas are made by rubbing some kind of fat (usually butter or lard) into the flour/salt/baking powder mix and then adding the warm water. However, in this case, I added the water and oil in at the same time and mixed as usual. This means they are much easier to make (as it becomes a simple, one-step process) and therefore quicker to prepare – there’ll be no need to buy flour tortillas ever again!
After the dough comes together, it is left to let the gluten relax, and to allow time for the water to be fully absorbed. This will make it easier to roll and stretch the dough out into thinner, more pliable tortillas. If you have more time than stated, or if you’re in a hurry, you can adjust this resting time though I will say the 30 minutes advised is about spot on if you want a recipe which is both speedy and delicious.
Finally, we come to the frying. A dry, large pan is ideal for keeping the constant medium-high heat needed to fry the discs of dough to perfection. Mine had a few bubbles here and there, which seemed to add to the individuality and imperfection of home-cooking. Big, small, thicker, thinner. It doesn’t matter – that’s the beauty of it! Make them how you like them, and fill them how you like. Any and all fillings are delicious: wrapped around smoky black beans and rice as a filling burrito, topped with tomato sauce and cheese for a thinner, crispier pizza base, or as they are brushed with a little olive oil and salt and thrown in the oven to crisp up for a light snack. Any which way you want them, give them a go!
THE RECIPE – Makes 8
- 2 1⁄2 Cups Plain Flour, plus additional as needed
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup lard (traditional); or butter, shortening, or vegetable oil
- Approx. 1 Cup hot tap water (about 55°C)
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Pour in about ¾ cup of water (plus the oil, if you’re using it), and stir briskly with a fork or whisk to bring the dough together into a shaggy mass; stir in additional water as needed to bring the dough together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead briefly, just until the dough forms a ball. If the dough is very sticky, gradually add a bit more flour.
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces.
- Round the pieces into balls and cover each one with a light coating of oil. Flatten slightly, and allow them to rest, covered, for about 30 minutes.
- While the dough rests, preheat an ungreased frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into a round about 8″ in diameter. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Fry the tortilla in the ungreased pan for about 30 seconds on each side.
- Wrap the tortilla in a clean cloth when it comes off the griddle, to keep it pliable. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
Notes: Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s ‘Simple Tortillas’ recipe