1 November 2016

5.01 Tortillas - Sides & Starters - Intermediate

Well, what better way to kick off FoodPoint Fiesta than with tortillas? These flatbreads feature prominently in most well-known Mexican dishes - such as burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, quesadillas, and even such things as tacos and nachos (when fried).

There's 2 types of Mexican tortillas, corn and wheat. This basically refers to the type of flour used as a base. In this entry, I'll be cooking both types.


Most people will be familiar with corn tortillas as the yellow coloured taco shells or the soft white varierty. These are actually the same product, except that the crispy shells are fried.

Corn tortillas are mainly used for tacos and corn chips (and anything corn-chip-related, such as nachos).

1 1/2 cups corn meal (masa)
500ml warm water
Vegetable oil, for frying
Corn meal, extra

Yep, that's really all they are, 4 simple ingredients.

As mentioned above, the colour of corn meal you use isn't important. The most widely available are white and yellow, but you can also find blue corn meal if that's your preference. It's worth noting that corn meal (also known as 'masa') is neither cornflour/cornstarch or polenta. You cannot substitute either of these for corn meal.

The extra corn meal is there in case your dough gets too soggy. Sometimes the humidity can affect the amount of liquid in the dough.


1. Place the cornmeal into a large mixing bowl, add a generous pinch of salt and mix together.

2. Pour in half of the water and mix until combined. Then add the remaining water a bit at a time until you end up with a mixture that resembles lumpy mashed potatoes. (Only add as much water as you need.)

3. Scatter some extra cornmeal onto the bench top, then pour the tortilla mixture onto the bench. Bring the dough together into a ball and knead for a few minutes until smooth. Wrap with clingfilm and place into the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Cut the chilled dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls.

5. Either use a tortilla press according to the directions, OR (if you don't have one) place a ball of dough between 2 sheets of baking paper, flatten with the base of a heavy frypan, then use a rolling pin to roll the tortilla out to the desired thickness.

6. Repeat Step 5 until you have rolled all 12 tortillas.

7. Place a dry frypan onto a high heat. Brush one side of the tortilla with some vegetable oil, then fry in the hot pan for 30-60 seconds. Brush the other side with more oil, flip the tortilla, and fry for a further 30-60 seconds before removing from the pan.

8. Repeat Step 7 until all tortillas are cooked.

9. Either serve right away, or wrap in clingfilm and store the tortillas in the fridge or freezer until needed. (If refrigerated, use within 7 days).

Makes 12


Wheat tortillas have a softer texture than corn tortillas and can usually be rolled out to a larger, thinner size.

These would mainly be used for burritos, fajitas, enchiladas and quesadillas.

1 3/4 cups plain flour
300ml warm water
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp baking powder

A couple more ingredients than with the corn tortilla recipe, but I find this mix works best.

I have not tried this with wholemeal flour, however I suppose it would work much the same as plain white flour.


1. Place the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl along with a generous pinch of salt. Mix together until evenly dispersed.

2. Add the oil to the water and whisk until (mostly) combined. (It will start to separate as soon as you stop mixing).

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together until it starts to come together. 

4. Scatter some flour the bench top, then pour the dough onto the bench. Flour your hands and knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes or until smooth and springy. (Be a bit rough with it, you're trying to develop the gluten.)

5. Allow the dough to rest for 15-20 minutes before moving on to Step 6.

6. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls. Then, roll out each ball to the desided thickness and size with a rolling pin.

7. Place a dry pan over high heat and fry each tortilla for 30-60 seconds on each side. (If they start to puff up too much, just use your tongs to puncture some of the bigger bubbles.)

8. Either serve right away, or wrap in clingfilm and store the tortillas in the fridge or freezer until needed. (If refrigerated, use within 7 days).

Makes 12

A video of both recipes is available at https://youtu.be/9F2G_J4xqME.

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