Once you try making these simple corn tortillas at home, you will never go back to the store to buy packaged tortillas. You can make your own in under an hour and that includes dough resting time. All you need is a bag of masa harina, water, and oil.
What is masa harina?
Masa harina is a chemical wonder that comes from dried corn kernels, precooked and re-hydrated in a lime (calcium hydroxide) solution (a process called nixtamalization). The resulting corn is ground into a soft dough. Through this process a few major transformations occur: the niacin becomes activated and available, and the lime naturally fortifies the corn with calcium, making masa more easily digestible and nutritious.
This process brakes down the corn oil into emulsifying agents which act as a gluten-like binder (corn is naturally gluten-free); this makes the dough sticky and pliable.
The Mexican stores sell fresh masa harina in bags, and the dry flour-like masa is sold in most supermarkets and online stores.
Make sure you are using masa harina, not cornmeal which is totally different.
How to make Masa Harina Dough?
This recipe is based on using dry masa.
Scoop 2 cups masa flour into a large bowl and add the salt.
Pour 1 ½ cup of hot water and the oil and start mixing. Gradually add more water if the dough seems dry. Work the masa with your hands to work the dough. It should feel like play dough: smooth and pliable.
After kneading by hand for a few minutes, form into a ball and leave it in the bowl covered.
At this point let the dough should rest and re-hydrate in the bowl for at least 30 minutes.
When you are ready to make the tortillas, divide the rested dough into 16 golf-sized balls and cover to prevent them from drying out.
How to make corn tortillas?
Using the tortilla press:
Heat a griddle or a cast iron pan. (don’t oil the pan)
Line the tortilla press with plastic.
Place the ball in the center of the press, and press it down to flatten. You might want to give it a second pressing, to ensure even flatness.
Once the griddle is hot, carefully lift, and place your tortilla on the griddle and let it cook untouched for a minute until the edges look dry. Flip the tortilla and cook the second side for about 40 seconds.
Flip it a third time and press it with a spatula in the center in a few places. The tortilla should puff, which means it is cooked through. Place the stack of tortillas on a towel or tortilla (tortilla warmer) to keep warm, and to allow the steam to add flexibility back into the masa.
Without a Tortilla press:
You can make tortillas without the press. Simply place the ball in between two plastic sheets and press it with a heavy plate into a flat circle and roll it with a rolling pin. Don’t go too thin.
Stalk the cooked tortillas together in a tortilla warmer pouch or simply in a clean kitchen towel.
Use these simple corn tortillas for tacos or homemade enchiladas.
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups hot/warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil grape-seed, avocado
Make the Masa Dough:
- Scoop the masa flour into a large bowl and add the salt.
- Pour 1 ½ cup of water and the oil and start mixing. Gradually add move water if the dough seems dry. Work the masa with your hands to make the dough. It should feel like play dough, smooth and pliable.
- After kneading by hand for a few minutes, form into a ball and leave it in the bowl covered.
- It should rest and re-hydrate in the bowl for at least 30 minutes.
- When ready to set up the tortillas
- Heat a griddle or a cast iron pan.
- Line the tortilla press with plastic.
- Place the ball in the center of the press and press it down to flatten. You might want to give another press just to ensure even flatness.
- Carefully lift the uncooked tortilla and placed on a hot griddle.
- Let it cook untouched for a minute until the edges are dry.
- Carefully flip the tortilla and cook for another minute.
- Flip one more time and firmly press with a spatula in the center.