One of my sweet employees surprised me with a present of a tortilla press and a jar of blue corn masa harina, as we had been talking about wanting to make tortillas from scratch. It wasn’t all that hard, and the blue corn made it feel more like a craft project.
2 C masa harina
1/2 tsp salt kosher salt (less if using table salt)
1 1/4 C warm water
Mix the salt and masa harina in a large bowl then add the water. Mix the masa harina and water together with one hand. The tortilla dough will start out crumbly, but continue mixing it and it will start to come together. Knead it for 2 minutes. After kneading, the tortilla dough should have a smooth texture like playdough. Form the tortilla dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit for at least an hour. After the dough has had a chance to rest, it’s time to check the texture. Break off a small piece, roll it into a ball, then press it between your palms.
If it forms cracks along the edges it’s too dry. Knead some more water into the dough a little bit at a time until it looks like the photo below If the dough sticks to your palms it is too wet. Add more masa harina a little at a time until it doesn’t stick anymore. (good photos in the recipe link above of too wet and too dry.)
Split the dough in half 4 times to get 16 even pieces and roll them into balls (if you’re looking for an excuse to use your kitchen scale, the balls should be about 1.5 oz). Be sure to keep the tortilla dough covered with a damp paper towel while you work to keep them from drying out.
Start preheating a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Ideally you’ll have a tortilla press, but if you don’t, a flat bottomed plate will work.(again, see the recipe link for a good explanation of how to do this with a plate). I found that plastic worked OK on my press, but squares of parchment paper worked better, as I could peel it carefully off of the tortilla. Carefully peel the tortilla onto the palm and fingers of one hand.
Move over to your preheated skillet and use a sweeping motion to move your hand out from under the tortilla being careful not to burn your hand. (Laying it gently on the hot pan.) Flatten out any ruffles in the tortilla and cook while you press your next tortilla (about 1 minute). The tortilla is initially cooked on only one side and should not brown. Transfer it to a pot with a lid lined with paper towels. Repeat until the rest of the dough balls have been pressed and cooked on one side. You can do these steps ahead of time and store the half cooked tortillas in the fridge until you are ready to serve them.
When you’re ready to serve the tortillas, turn up the heat on the pan to medium high. Place a tortilla in the pan, uncooked side down. Gently press the tortilla with a wadded up paper towel. Once the tortilla has a few brown spots flip one last time and press on it some more. This will cause the steam escaping to blow the tortilla up like a balloon. (See photos of what this should look like in the recipe link – this pretty much didn’t happen for me, but they came out yummy anyway.) To make tostadas we then fried them lightly in oil.
They also folded nicely