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Greg's tortillas de masa harina
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I've spent a lot of time and a lot of effort trying to make fresh Mexican tortillas (which have nothing to do with Spanish tortillas). I had lots of problems. See below for some of the pain. In particular, the tortillas tended to fall apart before I could bake them. Finally I'm at a point where I'm relatively satisfied with the results.

The recipe

Tortillas are made from masa and water. The proportions of masa and water are critical and depend on the masa. I've used Maseca and Minsa. The latter have “blue” masa as well as the more conventional yellow masa. Here are the proportions for four tortillas. “Minsa mix” is 50% Minsa blue and 50% Minsa yellow.

Ingredients

Brand       Masa       Water
Maseca       120 g       175 g
Minsa yellow       120 g       200 g
Minsa blue       120 g       155 g
Minsa mix       120 g       200 g
Casa iberica       120 g       180 g

Preparation

Mix the masa and water and knead long enough to ensure that it's uniform. You don't need to wait like you do with wheat: maize contains no gluten. If the dough is sticky, it's too moist. If it tends to break up, it's too dry.

Then proceed as with fresh masa: place a lump on a tortilla press (sometimes called tortilladora) and press out to a circular shape. Put baking paper between the tortilla and tortilladora to prevent sticking. With the Maseca dough this probably won't be enough: it'll stick anyway, and you need a little oil to get the tortilla off in one piece. Don't leave the tortilla in contact with the paper for too long: it will soften the paper, causing it to stick to the tortilla.


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Dry-fry with medium heat in a comal, a cast-iron frying pan with an inconveniently short handle. Other frying pans will do, of course, as long as they're not teflon-coated, but the thicker they are, the better they will maintain their temperature.

Discussion

The biggest problem with maize is that it contains no gluten. You can mix up wheat and water, and it will get sticky. Mix maize flour and water and it's a mixture of solid and liquid, and doesn't hold together. For this reason, you can't use normal maize flour for making tortillas. It first must be subject to the process of Nixtamalization, effectively a treatment with alkalis or bases such as calcium hydroxide (lime). After grinding, the result is called masa (de maíz). If you live in an area where there are many Mexican people, you may be able to get fresh masa. Otherwise you will need to look for masa (de) harina, which is also not easy to find.

I've had success with three kinds of masa, but they're definitely very different:

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