Sunday, September 25, 2011


Tortilla - in Spanish means "little cake" although, the Tortilla is one of the oldest known foods to the civilized world, dating back to 10,000 BC.  Anthropologist have found in 3000 BC that the Mesoamerican civilizations of the Mayans and the Aztecs did hybridized wild grasses that produce a large nutritious kernels we know as corn. 

Tortillas are made from corn meal (maize) or Wheat flour and used to serve with many different Mexican foods that have influenced Tex-Mex and Southwest cuisine.  Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes in 1519, arrived in what is today, Mexico. He found the indigenous Mesoamericans natives had a sophisticated and flavorful cuisine based on native fruits, game, cultivated beans and corn and domesticated turkeys." Below you will find recipes to make both corn and flour tortillas.
Making Corn Tortillas

When making corn or flour tortillas, divide the dough after it has been thoroughly mixed into small balls about the size of a walnut. Keep the dough wrapped while you work with one piece at a time.  The best way to bake the tortillas is to use a cast iron griddle. IF working from an indoor stove, use a griddle that stretches across two burners of the stove or two 12" inch cast iron skillets.

Ingredients:  Corn Tortillas

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • yields (12 servings) 
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and cornmeal. Add baking powder and salt, and mix together well. Stir in water to form a crumbly dough. Work dough with your hands until it holds together.
  2. On a floured surface, knead dough until smooth. Divide dough into 10 to 12 pieces. Roll each into the shape of a ball about the size of a walnut. Cover lightly with cloth wrap and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Flatten each piece of dough by hand, then roll into a 8 to 9 inches round.
  4. When using a griddle, have one side heated to medium heat while the other side should be cooler. If using two skillets, first skillet should be near 350 degrees (f) while the second cooler approximately 250 (f). 
  5. Lay the tortilla on the hot side of the griddle or hotter pan. Avoid getting burned by working from left to right, laying the left-hand edge of the tortilla onto the griddle, and gently sweep your hand away 
  6. After about a minute on the hot griddle, flip the tortilla over into the cooler skillet. 
  7. The center of the tortilla should begin to puff and will be cooked after about 30 seconds to one minute on the cooler pan. 
  8. Remove and place hot tortillas on a kitchen cloth to keep warm while you work making additional tortillas. 
Note: When using the corn tortillas to make other foods, lightly grease the finished tortilla until pliable. You can fold for making tacos or roll them for other dishes.
Making Flour Tortilla


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • yields (24 servings)
  1. Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Mix in the lard with your fingers until the flour resembles cornmeal. Add the water and mix until the dough comes together; place on a lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
  2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Use a well-floured rolling pin to roll a dough ball into a thin, round tortilla about 8-9 inches. 
  3. Place into the hot skillet, and cook until bubbly and golden; flip and continue cooking until golden on the other side. 
  4. Place the cooked tortilla in a kitchen towel and cover to keep warm while making the additional tortillas. 

return to recipes:
return to Chuck Wagons
return to cowboy and chuckwagon cooking:
Chuck Wagon Cooking King Ranch, Texas  photo by Roger Edison
Flour Tortilla with the staples of Ranch Cooking

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