Monday, January 14, 2013

Homemade Tortillas and the 80/20 Rule

Nothing beats a warm, fresh, homemade flour tortilla. I've often wished I had my own, but was always too scared by the seemingly difficult and complicated task to try it. I mean, you can't just make your own delicious authentic-tasting tortillas, right? WRONG. You can, and you should! This process of making your own authentic Mexican deliciousness is surpisingly easy! In fact, the hardest part (if you can call it hard) is rolling out a few circles of dough. Other than that, it's basically as easy as throwing some flour and water together. Seriously.
As you probably know, flour tortillas are not the healthiest food on the planet. But, I've made some modifications to the recipe that make it much more so than many others out there. I've used butter instead of lard, and the amount of butter used has been cut by a third! AND, they still taste amazing! In the future I will be trying these again using coconut oil instead of butter and whole wheat flour instead of white. But for now, since I usually try to stay away from white flour, otherwise known as "cheat wheat" by my friend Gwen (check out her website at, it's a good thing to consider the 80/20 rule. If real food makes up about 80 percent of your diet, you're doing pretty good! It is virtually impossible to eat only healthy food one hundred percent of the time. Practically speaking, you would find yourself starving at most family dinners and social functions if you insisted on only eating real food. Also, this eating better thing can seem daunting at times. If you're an all-or-nothing type person (like me) you might get overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to completely change your diet and cut out everything that's bad for you. Or maybe you think having that one little treat will mean throwing your entire effort to eat better out the window. But have no fear! Moderation in all things is the key. If you are eating real food about 80 percent of the time, you are doing much better than most people. That means you've probably cut out a huge amount of GMO food, and other toxins and harmful elements that you used to be consuming. That is a huge improvement! And if your body is in this overall state of better health, the other 20 percent that you eat won't have such a harmful effect on your body!

Homemade Flour Tortillas


2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup water
extra flour for rolling

1. Make the dough. Mix the flour and salt. Heat the water and butter over low heat until it has melted. Gradually stir the liquid into the flour and form into a dough by hand. The result should be a dough that is neither wet nor dry and crumbly. If it seems much too wet add a little more flour; if it is too dry add a little more water. Knead the dough very briefly, then allow it to rest for 1 hour. Divide it into 14 pieces (or less, depending on how thick or thin you want your tortillas.)  Roll the pieces of dough into little balls between the palms of your hands, then cover them with a slightly damp towel, and allow them to rest for at least 15 minutes, up to an hour and a half. This will allow the gluten to relax and make them easier to shape.

2. Form the tortillas. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into rounds 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches in diameter. You might need a bit of extra flour for this so they don't stick to everything.

3. Cook the tortillas. Heat a large, heavy skillet or griddle over medium heat. (425-475 degrees) Place one or two of the rolled dough pieces on it. Within about 20-30 seconds it should start to bubble and some little brown spots begin to form on the bottom. Flip the tortilla and cook another 20-30 seconds. By this time it should start to puff a little more, and the other side will develop light brown spots. Flip the tortilla again at which time it should immediately begin to puff, sometimes into a large, nearly round ball. You can encourage the tortilla to puff by lightly passing a spatula over the top surface of the tortilla, called "tickling" it, while it is cooking. When the tortilla has fully expanded, remove it from the heat and place in a tortilla warmer or wrap it in foil. Be careful not to cook it too long or it will harden after it's done; you want a nice, soft, roll-able tortilla.

  Serve with your favorite Mexican meal or anything at all, really! Enjoy!

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