General purpose wheat flour
Take 2 cups of flour and cut in 1/4 cup of fat or oil. Light salad oils or shortening will impart little flavor, and things like bacon drippings or olive oil will impart more. Add a dash of salt, mix this all together until it is evenly crumbly, and you have tortilla mix. Sprinkle with water, and mix until you have a gummy dough, and you have tortilla dough. Simple, simple, simple.
Now a word about gluten: Gluten is a protein in wheat (and some other) flour which, when pushed and pulled for a while, forms long chains. It is what gives dough its doughy consistency, and what allows bread to rise. The pushing and pulling is called kneading, and the more the dough is kneaded, the longer the gluten chains become, and the chewier the bread. There is a point where the chains break, and this is called “overworking” the bread, but it takes a while to get there.
So, we need to work our tortilla dough. Toss some flour on the counter, table, cutting board or whatever flat surface you have available, and plop your dough in the middle of the flour. Put some flour on your hands, and flatten the dough. Then fold the dough in half, and flatten it again. Repeat, adding enough flour so that the dough doesn’t stick to your hands or the board. As soon as the dough starts to feel a little springy, you’re done (different styles of bread and different ingredients require different amounts of kneading).
Now, pull off a piece of dough, and form in into something the size of a golf ball. If you have a rolling pin, now would be a good time to grab it. No rolling pin? You can use a piece of dowelling, or a wine bottle, or anything similar. Flour your surface and your “pin” so the dough won’t stick, and put a dry frying pan on the stove to heat up. You want it to be hot!
Take your pin, and roll that little golf ball out as round and as thin as you can. The key to making great flour tortillas is high heat and thin dough. So, as soon as you have the tortilla as thin as you can reasonably get it, toss it immediately in the hot pan – before it has a chance to spring back to it’s smaller, thicker old self. As soon as the tortilla hits the pan, it will begin cooking. Some people keep flipping the tortilla, and some people flip it only once, but either way, the goal is to heat the tortilla until steam pockets develop inside and it “pillows” up, but you don’t want it to burn – so it takes a bit of focus.
If you like your tortillas crispy, you’re done. If you like them soft (for rolling into burritos), toss them into a bag as you go, and the steam will soften them. Tortillas can conceivably last a few days, but good luck trying to keep them around once you and your crew have tasted them! Because of this, and since it’s a bit of a production, you may want to make a lot at a time. It’s best to get things set up as a production line, where the next tortilla is ready to toss in the pan as soon as the last one is done, and two or more people can really crank out a pile of tortillas fairly quickly.
As you go, experiment a little. Some people like thicker tortillas, some thinner. Some like them almost raw and gummy, and some like them nearly burnt to a crisp. You’ll know when you have found your perfect tortilla, because it will be delicious on its own. Then add some fresh Dorado, a little canned Mexican salsa and some boat-grown sprouts, and even if you haven’t been to a supermarket in months, you will have made something so fresh and mouthwatering that you will dream about it for the rest of your life. Bon Appetit!