Greetings! Today, we’ll be going over one of the few bread recipes in this class that doesn’t use yeast.
Making tortillas is an ancient culinary tradition that stretches back to 3000 BC. Archaeologists’ excavations of the “Valle de Tehuacan” found that early Mesoamericans ate the forebearer of today’s corn. Move forward to the Spanish discovery of the New World, and native Nahuatl made flat corn breads called tlaxcalli that much more closely resembled the tortillas we know today. To make these tortillas, the Nahuatl would soak maize kernels in a mixture of lime and water to remove the tough, inedible exterior. The treated grains were ground down into dough called masa before being flattened by hand and cooked on a griddle.
In many places in Mexico, tortillas are still made traditionally. However, they have also been adapted to mass production that began with manual tortilla presses and progressed to industrial machinery. Flour tortillas arrived on the culinary scene when wheat flour became cheaper than corn meal in some parts of Mexico, and have been embraced as an equally tasty way to make tortillas. Once tortillas are made, they can be used for burritos, tacos, quesadillas, wraps, tortilla chips, and more. Tortillas are a very popular food around the world, not just in Mexico. They’ve even been to space, where they’re prized for their inability to fill sensitive instruments with crumbs.
Recipe: Flour Tortillas (Makes 8 Tortillas)
2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon (7g) salt
¾ cup (180ml) warm water
3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil
Begin by mixing together the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add in the water and olive oil, and mix until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough forms into a ball. Place the dough on a floured surface, and knead until it becomes smooth. At this point, cover the dough and let it sit for ten minutes. While you’re waiting, go ahead and heat a skillet or frying pan. Without preheating the pan, you run the chance of a brittle tortilla.
Once the dough is done resting, divide it into eight smaller balls of dough. Roll each of the balls out on a well-floured surface until they are very thin and about 8 inches (20cm) in diameter. Cook the tortilla for about 30 seconds on each side until it gets brown and fluffy.
• For more authentic tortillas, substitute the olive oil for lard or vegetable shortening.
• To maintain a round shape more easily, rotate the tortilla as you roll it out.
• Cover freshly made tortillas with a dish towel to keep them warm.
That’s the end of today’s lesson. I hope you use your newfound knowledge of tortilla making to make some delicious recipes soon. Tomorrow, we’ll cover English muffins. See you then!
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