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Homemade Flour Tortillas - Rolling or a press

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So Ive got a metal tortillas press that I bought in a Mexican market and have yet to use it. I have an excuse to make tortillas tonight and need to know if I should be using a the rolling pin or the press to flatten it out. I picked up some fresh manteca to use in the dough so am pretty excited.

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  1. I use both methods and, frankly, don't find a lot of difference except for the fact that the pressed tortillas tend to shape more uniformly than the rolled.

    1. The tortilla press is also good for flattening Chinese scallion breads and mini muffin crusts. If you use the cream cheese and butter recipe, a small ball of dough (I think I use a teaspoon portioner) makes the perfect round for a mini muffin pan for sweet or savory tassies or quiches. Don't use plastic wrap as it's too flimsy. Use a heavier plastic bag, cut along its sides, to lay down top and bottom before you press.

      Haven't tried it, but maybe it would work for tostones. And, now thinking about it, I wonder if it would work for cracking (gently) pistachios? I'm sure it would work for gyosa skins, but they're so cheap to buy that I wouldn't bother.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nemo

        Tortillas came out too hard and not flaky enough..i dont think i used enough fat (5 tblsp) to about 3 and 1/4 cup flour......they were okay but not better than store bought....was easy so will def try again.

      2. Have you found that its worth your time and effort to make your own flour tortillas? I admire the initiative, but have determined that this is one item for which factory made works just fine. Same with English muffins.

        10 Replies
        1. re: rjbh20

          I always try certain failed recipes more than once if I feel that it can be worth it...So I will certainly try one more attempt but if not...like you said..store bought works just fine.

          1. re: rjbh20

            A lot depends on the quality of the factory ones. Many brands, even if soft enough, have a background taste that I don't like. My current favorites are the basic $2/bag ones from Trader Joes.

            But I still occasionally make my own, rolled by hand. Sometimes it's because I am out of the TJ ones. Or I want practice. I still can't make 10" round ones.

            1. re: paulj

              When I've tried flour tortillas, they shrink up to about half the original size after taking them out of the press, so they're about 1/4 inch thick. Am I working the dough too much? Or maybe not enough? I've tried letting the dough sit, letting it sit twice (before and after rolling into the balls). They're a complete failure. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

              1. re: chrissyA

                You could add more fat to the dough, at least while you are getting the hang of things. Oil heavy Spanish flat bread doughs roll out quite easily.

                1. re: chrissyA

                  Another option is an electric tortilla press - cooks them as soon as you press them. In an Indian neighborhood, look for a roti maker.

                  1. re: paulj

                    I bought an electric tortilla press....not cheap, hard to store & I did not like the looks of the tortilla when it came out....pale, without those brown spots all over & no little puffs on the tortilla. Ended up sending it to the thrift store. Bad experience for me, I just stick to my good 'ol cast iron skillet, thank you. To each his own, I guess.

                    1. re: cstout

                      Have you ever got that right, what a waste of money.

                  2. re: chrissyA

                    The more you work the dough, the more gluten development you get and the more they shrink. After making/mixing/kneading the dough, try letting it rest. This way the tightening up happens before you press them.

                    1. re: jvanderh

                      Yes, that is true of pie crusts too. Hope FoodExpression is making some tortillas...let us know how they turned out.

                    2. re: chrissyA

                      A regular, unheated tortilla press only works for corn tortillas. Flour tortilla dough is too elastic, as you discovered. You can start them on the press, but they still need to be stretched by hand before you cook them.

                      If you get an electric tortilla press, that will work for flour tortillas, because the heat causes the dough to relax, so that you can press it thin. But they aren't meant for cooking the tortilla (no matter what the ads say). Tortillas need to puff up to cook properly. So press the dough on the electric tortilla press on medium low heat, which just precooks it enough to press it thinly, then remove it and finish cooking on a comal, griddle, or flat pan. You may want to press it for 5 seconds or so, then take it off and rotate it and press it again for a second, to get it even and thin.

                      Or if you want to use a non-electric press for flour tortillas, start them on the press and finish with a rolling pin. Or pat them out by hand. That takes practice, as you hold the tortilla between flat hands, patting one side and then the other alternately, and letting the dough's own weight stretch it. I have trouble getting them round and not tearing them.

                2. Traditionally (at least as far as I know), flour tortillas are rolled, while presses are reserved for corn. I don't doubt that the press would work on flour, but I've never seen it done.
                  If I wasn't trying to cut flour out of my diet, I would still be making lots of flour tortillas. The fresh ones make a huge difference.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: gilintx

                    Right on giintx, That's how I was taught and how i've always done it. I roll out the flour tortillias and use the hand press for the corn.

                  2. I make flour tortillas using the recipe on www.homesicktexan.com. You won't need a tortilla press or anything like that. You will need a cast iron skillet so you can get the pan very hot, a flat skillet called a "comal" is great, but not necessary. Use the recipe that calls for milk....water never worked for me. Trust me, these tortillas come out just like the ones you get in a taco joint. I want to get a small rolling pin to use for tortilla making, but my regular is working just fine. I have tried many recipes & hers is the "real deal".

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cstout

                      I tried her recipe for Ranch Style Beans Recipe; they were so tasty that I ran out and bought her book. Many enticing dishes to be found there; some not on the blog .

                      1. re: KDaniel

                        Homesick Texan, glad you got the book. And just remember, if you find a recipe that uses a spice that you don't like or can't find, just go ahead & make the dish anyway....you won't be disappointed. Sometimes she adds a touch of spice to regular things, maybe a little cayenne pepper to brownies or whatever, if that is not your flavor, leave it out.

                        Also, if you are in the mood for more Tex Mex / Mex Tex cookbooks, just holler, I can suggest several others that are excellent. I collect them & cook a great deal of that type of food.