While in Texas last summer, my sister in law Norma would prepare a fresh batch of corn tortillas every other morning. I have prepared many over the years, but from the moment I ate the first one she had prepared, I knew I was doing something wrong, lol! Hers were so soft and pliable, where most times when I would prepare them for tacos, they would crack once in a while when you tried to fold them. I soon quizzed her on what her method was.
For years, I would start with the dry masa harina and gradually add in the hot water until the dough formed. She starts with room temperature water and gradually adds in the masa harina. And she also rolls the dough balls several times in between her hands, which I believe adds some air into the dough. I could be totally wrong about this, but I could not wait to get home and try a batch using her recipe.
Since that trip, I have prepared at least 6 batches using Norma’s recipe and it really did make a difference on the softness of the tortilla. I tweeked the recipe by adding olive oil and a little baking soda. The olive oil adds moisture and the baking soda, makes them puff out a little more. But, those ingredients are optional if you just want to try a basic recipe. I love that we never stop learning and am so grateful for my new sister- in-law Norma.
Yields 24 small or 18 medium tortillas
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda, optional
2 tablespoons olive oil, optional
2 1/3 cups, plus 2 tablespoons masa harina (Maseca brand)
Tortilla press or flat bottomed plate
A heavy plastic storage bag
A comal or griddle pan
1. In a large bowl, add the water and the salt, baking soda and olive oil. Stir to combine. Gradually add in the masa harina until the dough forms. It will be slightly sticky, if too sticky, add another couple of tablespoons of masa harina. Cover with plastic wrap and let set for 20 minutes.
2. Cut the plastic bag down to line the inside of tortilla press, about 5X5 in size.
3. Preheat the comal or griddle to medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes. A hot comal or griddle pan is very important.Take enough dough to make 18 to 24 dough balls. Keep them cover with plastic so they don’t dry out.
4. When ready, roll it several times in between your hands and even rolling it into the shape of a cigar. I believe this add a little air into the masa for a softer more pliable tortilla. Form back into a ball and press gently in lined press to about 4 to 4 1/2 inches in diameter. Making sure the tortilla fits comfortably in the palm of your hand, peel off the plastic and transfer to hot comal or griddle. If the tortilla tears, just roll it into a ball and start over.
5. Tortillas are ready to turn when they release easily from the comal. Turn over and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Turn again and using a flat metal spatula, press gently on one side of tortilla. This will create an air bubble in between the tortillas, making a softer and lighter tortilla! Yay!! LOL! Remove from heat and keep warm in between two kitchen towels.
Tips~ Some things to remember…
1.The dough is a bit stickier than my old recipe, so rolling several times in your hands releases a little of the moisture before cooking.
2. My hands are small, so I can only make small tortillas, hahha…bigger hands, bigger tortillas.
3. Don’t give up…my first half was not the greatest…the second half were awesome…practice, practice, practice!