Tortillas de Maíz con Maseca

Tortillas are everywhere and are considered one of Mexico's most cherished foods. According to Tortilla Industry Association, Mayan legend has it, tortillas were invented by a peasant for his hungry king in ancient times. The first tortillas, which date approximately 10,000 years before Christ, were made of native corn with dried kernel.

Traditionally, maize tortillas are made from nixtamalized maize; kernels were soaked in a solution of lime (calcium hydroxide) and water to remove their skins; this also increases the bioavailability of then-unknown niacin. The grains were then ground into maize dough (masa). A golf ball-sized piece of dough was patted down by hand into a thin pancake shape, placed on a hot griddle (comal), and cooked on both sides. This tortilla-making process is still used today in southern Mexico, according to Wikipedia.

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Tortillas de Maíz con Maseca /
Corn Tortillas Made with Maseca

From the book Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales: Flavors from the Griddles, Pots, and Streetside Kitchens of Mexico by Roberto Santibañez

Makes about 24 tortillas

Ingredients

  • 3 cups tortilla flour (masa harina)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (about 115F/46C), plus more as needed

Equipment

  • Tortilla press
  • Two plastic circles (about 7 inches in diameter) cut from a thin, translucent grocery bag

Directions

Make the Dough

Stir together the tortilla flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and mix with your hands until the mixture comes together, then knead it for a minute with your palm to form a smooth dough. It should feel just slightly sticky and leave a light film on your hands. If it doesn’t, very gradually knead in more water until it does. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 5 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Form and Cook the Tortillas

Set a large shallow (ideally, flat) pan over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Line a tortilla basket or a bowl with a clean kitchen towel: As you cook each tortilla, you will layer it on the top of the others in the basket, wrap the basket with the towel, and cover it (with an inverted plate in the case of the bowl) to finish cooking the tortillas and to keep them warm.

Open your tortilla press and lay a plastic round in the center of the press’s bottom plate. Grab a small piece of dough (about 2 tablespoons) and roll it between your palms into a ball. Put it in the center of the plastic round, drape the other plastic round on top, and press down gently with your palm to flatten the ball a bit. Close the tortilla press, push down firmly on the handle, open the press again, rotate the plastic rounds 180 degrees, and press down again. Your goal is a tortilla of even thickness.

Open the press, pick up the tortilla, plastic and all, and carefully peel off the plastic from one side and then the other. (If the tortilla sticks to the plastic, the dough is too wet and you should gradually add a little more tortilla flour.) With the tortilla draped on your palm, gently lay the tortilla (resist the temptation to flop it) onto the pan with a turn of your wrist.

Set a timer if it’s your first or even third time cooking tortillas. Cook the tortillas on one side until the edge just barely lift from the pan, about 20 seconds. Use your fingers or a spatula to carefully flip the tortilla, then cook it for 45 seconds. Flip it again, cook it for 45 seconds (it should puff slightly), then flip it one final time, and cook for 30 seconds. Each side should have a few brown spots. (If there are no brown spots, the heat is too low. If the spots look dark, the heat is too high.)

Put the cooked tortilla in the kitchen towel-lined basket or bowl, cover, and one by one, repeat forming and cooking the tortillas.

From the book Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales: Flavors from the Griddles, Pots, and Streetside Kitchens of Mexico by Roberto Santibañez

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Maseca Instant Yellow Corn Masa Flour

  • Maseca Corn Flour 2.2 lb - 1kg
  • Gluten free

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