I have been making this recipe for more than 30 years. When my girls were young, they used to roll them out and take guesses at the resulting shapes. The most common was Australia! So, don’t expect to get them perfectly round. After all, they are homemade! And I speak from experience when I say that a tortilla press is a waste of time and money when making flour tortillas. They never come out even. They stick and always have to be fixed with a rolling pin. A good rolling pin and a well-seasoned cast iron skillet are all you need to make these.
“An American Homestead” Flour Tortillas
4 cups soft white winter wheat flour* (see note below)
1 tsp baking powder (optional)
2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup water
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a “well” in the center and add oil and water. Stir together (wooden spoon is best) until dough forms a ball. If necessary, add more water and stir until the sides of the bowl are clean of all dough. Note: Baking powder can be completely omitted. Its purpose is to give the tortillas a lighter texture, but it is not necessary. We often make them without baking powder and my daughter actually prefers them that way. Try making them both ways to see what you like the best!
Knead on a floured board just until the ingredients are completely incorporated. Cut the dough into pieces and roll them into balls. They should be around the size of an egg for small to medium tortillas. You can make them bigger to make large tortillas. Just keep in mind, you will need a skillet larger than 10″ to cook large tortillas. Let the dough balls stand for 15 minutes.
Pat down each ball and roll thin with a rolling pin to about the size of a salad plate, or bigger for large tortillas.
Place one at a time in a hot ungreased skillet on medium heat. Cook about 2 minutes. You will know when they are ready to turn because small bubbles will appear on the surface. Turn and cook 1 minute longer or till bubbles puff up.
*Note: I mill my own soft white winter wheat using wheat berries that I purchase in bulk. It is important that you use soft instead of hard white winter wheat because the texture is very different. If you use hard, your tortillas will turn out like crackers. You will not be able to fold them. If you do not have soft white winter wheat, never fear! They can be made with regular all-purpose flour or unbleached flour. I choose whole wheat flour that I mill myself because I believe that it is healthier for my family. But we all have to start somewhere! Making these from scratch even with regular bleached all-purpose flour is still better for you than purchasing them from the store. If you are still getting accustomed to the taste and texture of whole wheat, try using 2 cups soft white winter wheat and 2 cups unbleached flour. But my family enjoys my tortillas using all whole wheat. If that is what you are trying to achieve, start with 2 cups to 2 cups and each time you make them, use more whole wheat. Pretty soon your family will be enjoying 100% whole wheat tortillas too. For more information about milling wheat, please see my daughter’s article on Why I Mill Flour Myself.