Flour Tortillas, Gluten-Free

by Jeanne on May 13, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinally, finally, finally I got around to developing a recipe for flour tortillas.  Thank you for your patience!

This recipe turned out to be more challenging to get right than I anticipated. But, I have gotten so many requests for flour tortillas–from my readers and from my family–that I was determined to figure it out.

I have to admit–I don’t really like the commercially available gluten-free flour tortillas.  They tend to be too stiff for me and they don’t really roll around fillings all that well.  And they taste kind of funny to me.  When I started to work on a recipe for these, I had a few some specific goals.  I wanted tortillas that:

1) were soft and fairly easy to roll around a filling
2) tasted like I remember wheat flour tortillas to taste
3) used easy-to-obtain ingredients

Traditionally, flour tortillas are made with lard.  Good, quality lard is somewhat challenging for me to get in Seattle, and I didn’t want to render my own, so I knew that if my recipe contained lard, I would never make it.  It turns out that butter is excellent for this recipe.  It provides a nice taste and the texture is perfect.  If you can’t use dairy butter, I would experiment with using lard, shortening, or coconut oil.  Don’t use a liquid oil, though–that will create a different texture for the tortillas.  Also, I played with the amount of salt in the tortillas until I got it to the level we like.  You can add more or less salt depending on your tastes.

If you are a kitchen gadget hound like me, this recipe is a great reason to pull out your tortilla press.  I got mine at a local Mexican store years and years ago for making my own corn tortillas.  It’s one of those single-use pieces of equipment that’s really fun to use.  I use my tortilla press for the first shaping–to create a nicely rounded disk.  I then transfer the dough to a floured rolling board and roll it out a bit thinner.  If you don’t have a tortilla press and you don’t want to get one, you can roll out the dough with a rolling pin. For the rolling process, I use a small Asian rolling pin. This is a handy tool for rolling out small bits of dough. If you don’t have one, you can just use your regular rolling pin. I will say that I use my small rolling pin much more than I would have thought I would.  It’s also handy to have a ruler to check the diameter of your tortillas as you roll them.  And a small knife is handy for cutting off the ragged edges

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Flour Tortillas, Gluten-Free

Yield: about 9- 7 inch/18 cm tortillas

Ingredients
2 cups (280 g) Jeanne’s All Purpose Gluten-Free flour mix
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
3/4 cup (156 ml) warmish water (about 90 degrees F/ 32 degrees C)
tapioca flour for rolling

In the bowl of a food processor, place the flour, salt, and baking powder. Pulse a few times to mix.

Add the butter pieces. Pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand. If you don’t have a food processor, add the butter pieces via a pastry cutter or by rubbing them into the flour mix with your hands.  Add the warm water and turn on processor until a dough ball forms (or mix with a spoon until you can’t mix it anymore and then use your hands to do the final mixing).  The dough should be soft and pillowy.

Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. This rest period will help to distribute the water throughout the dough.  If you don’t plan on using the dough that day, you can refrigerate the wrapped dough.  But will need to bring it to cool room temperature before you roll and make the tortillas.  Please note that if the dough is too warm, it will be hard to roll and it will be too floppy to move to the pan.  It’s best when it’s on the cooler side of room temperature.

When you are ready to make the tortillas, roll your dough into 9 equal balls of about 1/4 cup/65 grams each.  Cover the balls with plastic wrap while you preheat your pan.

The tortillas need to be cooked in a pan that can be heated to a high temperature.  I use a well-seasoned cast iron pan for this.  Place pan on medium high heat and let preheat well–for about 5 minutes.  If you have a tortilla press, now is the time to use it. Dust the press with tapioca flour (top and bottom). In addition, dust rolling surface with tapioca flour.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlace the first dough ball in the middle of the press and firmly press. Open the press. Most likely the disk (which should be about 5 inches/13 cm in diameter) will stick to the upper part of the press (as it does for me).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACarefully remove the dough disk and place it on the floured rolling surface. Sprinkle the surface of the dough disk with tapioca flour. If you don’t have a tortilla press, proceed to the next step.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith a rolling pin give the dough disk (or dough ball if you didn’t use a tortilla press) a roll.  Give the disk a quarter turn and roll it again. Repeat this process until you have a disk that is roughly 7 inches (18 cm) in diameter.  Don’t roll these any thinner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf the dough gets too thin it will be almost impossible to transfer from the rolling surface to the pan.  If the ragged edges bother you, you can cut them off at this stage with a sharp knife.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith a large turner, carefully transfer the dough disk to the heated pan.  It might take you a few tries before you are able to transfer the dough disk without it breaking.  If your kitchen is hot, the dough might get too warm and might get floppy and be harder to roll and to transfer.  If this happens, put dough into the fridge to cool down and firm up.

Cook for about 60 seconds–until the surface of the tortilla is covered with puffed up bubbles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFlip and cook on the other side for another 60ish seconds.  Both sides should look like they do in the photo at top–with brown rings where the bubbles have formed.

Flip the tortilla onto a dinner plate hot side up.  You will now repeat the process with each dough ball.  Flip each successive tortilla hot side up onto the tortilla stack.  By the end of the process, you will have 9 tortillas.  Cover warm tortillas with a towel to keep warm and serve.

Tortillas are best fresh–they will be pliable and should roll around a filling fairly easily.

Tortillas will be best (and the most pliable) the day they are made.  To store, cool completely and then store in an airtight container at room temperature (not in the fridge) for up to 2 days.  For longer storage, freeze.  To refresh, microwave for a few seconds before use.

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