Homemade Flour Tortillas, without lard!

A lot of homemade tortilla recipes have been floating around pinterest for a couple of weeks now. I got inspired and had to make them! Except for one thing, all of the tortilla recipes I could find included lard or shortening. My husband hates lard, the look of it, the smell of it. It is one of the things that can make him throw up on cue, lard and wet cat food. My mom, has an abundance of both, wet cat food and saved lard in jars in the fridge from bacon, sausage, etc. They have always saved it. It is something I am extremely used to, my husband, not so much.

Every now and then I like to pull out a jar and ask him if he wants any. I am terrible in that way. It is just to keep him from loving me too much. Everyone needs some bad points.

Anyway, he hates lard and I dislike shortening. For some reason, I haven’t really quite figured it out. This recipe uses oil instead of lard or shortening, in fact you in a sense make your own shortening? It works though and is a little bit healthier than the lard version of tortillas.

This is not my recipe, credit is due to Jacqueline Higuera McMahan from her cookbook, Rancho Cooking; Mexican and Californian Recipes. She is a genius! I love these tortillas and I am determined not to buy tortillas ever again, but I say that about a lot of things.

You will need; flour, canola oil, baking powder, sea salt and water.

Whisk 4 cups flour with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Place the 4 tablespoons of oil into a separate bowl.

Put a 1/2 cup of your flour mixture into the oil and mix with a fork.

Then put it in a plastic bag and place it in the freezer for 1 hour. (We have tons of these holiday freezer bags left).

Cover the flour mixture with a towel to keep curious things away.

After an hour, take the oil mixture out and put it into the flour mixture. Mix/cut with a pastry cutter until you get a crumb type mixture. I have never had a pastry cutter before, so I just use my hands. Also, at this point you should put the kettle on, to warm up 1 1/2 cups water. Just warm, not boiling.

Your crumb mixture could look like this. Mine did.

I can not mutli-photo-take task, here is my failed attempt at pouring the salt into water. You need 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt. Mix it into the water until dissolved. This is a great time to talk about dissolving with your kiddo. I didn’t though, mine was in siesta and needed her rest.

Once the salt is dissolved, pour the water into the flour crumbs. Mix with spoon or fork until a dough forms and then knead the dough in the bowl for about a minute, until it starts to feel a little stiff.

You should definitely knead the dough  in the bowl though, it gets messy outside of the bowl.

Now cover it with…ahem…plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. Um..it’s a good thing we had so many of those bags, it was at this step that I realized we didn’t have any plastic wrap. I dislike plastic wrap…I wonder if there is a way to make a replacement type covering…

After 30 minutes, or after the sun goes down, which ever is first, take your dough and divide it into 12-ish balls, depending. I got 14 this time, but I am not the best at size regulation.

Cover the balls with…ahem…plastic wrap and flatten down with the palm of your hand. Let them rest for 30 minutes.

Start heating your griddle, skillet, comal, flat cast iron, really a large flat skillet type pan, anything can work. When we first made these, for our Mexico Theme, we used our large “omelet pan” and it worked great. This time we used my mom’s flat cast iron pan. It was fantastic too!

Grab your snug bug and start rolling. You want to roll from the center out. Just small strokes. Here is a series of pictures trying to photograph that method.

It is easier if you roll out one at a time and then roll another out while the first one cooks. They need to be about 1/8th inch thick and 9-10 inches across.

Now put your tortilla on the pan and flip it with your fingers every 20-30 seconds, depending on how hot your pan is. The hotter it has gotten the quicker you have to turn it. You tortilla will start to bubble and get brown spots, this is good. Watch your fingers, the suggested method is the pinch the side and flip quick.

You can puncture some of the really big bubbles if you want.

Otherwise keep flipping it, until there are nice light brown spots on it. If you over cook the tortilla the spots will only get darker and eventually start to burn. Then you will have black spots. Once the tortilla is cooked to your preferred spot color, use a spatula to take it off the pan and put it on a clean towel.

Repeat until you have a wonderful stack of homemade, beautiful flour tortillas!

Delicious!!! They are a little chewier and thicker then store-bought, but they are also a lot tastier. Perfect for quesadillas and breakfast burritos, fajitas, tortilla soup, anything you would need a tortilla for and everything you wouldn’t need a tortilla for.

Here is the condensed recipe.

A granddaughter’s flour tortillas – from “Rancho Cooking” by Jacqueline Higuera McMahan

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking powder

4 tablespoons canola oil

1 ½ tsp sea salt

1 ½ cups warm water

(1)Stir the flour and baking powder together in a large bowl with a whisk. Transfer ½ cup of this mixture to another bowl and add all of the canola oil to it, blending with a fork. Place the oil-flour mixture in a plastic Ziploc bag and freeze for 1 hour.

(2)Use a pastry blender to blend the cold flour-oil mixture into the dry flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

(3)Mix the salt into the warm water until dissolved. Stir into the flour mixture until a dough forms. Knead for 1 minute in the bowl. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

(4)Form 12 balls of dough. Place on an oiled baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Flatten the balls with the heel of your hand (through the plastic is fine). Let rest for 30 minutes.

(5)Pre-heat a comal or griddle over medium heat. Take out 1 flattened ball and roll it into a thick circle, rolling from the center in short strokes. To make a round tortilla, keep turning the circle of dough after each stroke with the rolling-pin. The tortilla should be about 1/8 inch thick and 9 to 10 inches across. You can hold it up and run your fingers underneath as you turn it to stretch it further; this step is not absolutely necessary but produces an even thinner tortilla.

(6)Gently lay the first tortilla on the comal or griddle. Turn over every 20 seconds. Push your thumb and forefinger into the edge of the tortilla and turn it away from you. You will develop your own rhythm. Golden freckles will form over the surface of the tortilla, indicting its lightness. Sometimes the tortilla will inflate like a balloon.

(7)When the tortilla stops bubbling and forming freckles, it is done. Remove immediately so it doesn’t overcook.

(8)Warp cooked tortillas in a clean dishtowel. When cool, wrap in foil or put in a plastic bag. Heat tortillas on a griddle to warm them up before serving.

I love it!!!

Happy Tortilla Making!!!



4 responses to “Homemade Flour Tortillas, without lard!

  1. You make it look simple! I love tortillas but rarely eat them because of the lard content. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you, except beware if you make them with some whole wheat flour, the recipe has to be adjusted, I just haven’t played with it enough yet.
      Agreed though, my husband and I stay as far aware from lard as we can.

  2. Yum… I had no idea tortillas had lard in them. Oh no…. 🙂

    • I am not sure about the ones at the store, but a lot of homemade recipes typically call for lard. There have been a lot of new recipes out recently, that are lard-less!

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