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Mar 26, 2012 08:47 AM

Home made Corn Tortilla..Can't get em to puff up?

Just started making them and am having a problem with them puffing up..I have used both a cast iron skillet and a big non stick griddle. Out of the 16 made only ONE puffed.. and that was one in the middle of the batch so I don't think the heat level is the issue? Anyone have any clues?

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  1. Corn don't really puff up the way flour ones do, not sure what you're looking for.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      All the videos I have watched show that the corn ones do puff up...and one did?

      1. re: ferret

        Looks like my problem was answered in this thread...."Homemade tortillas with blue corn masa harina? Help needed" Thanks twentyfourseven...

        1. re: ferret

          Homemade corn tortillas (even made with maseca) do puff. That's your main goal when cooking them because it makes a huge difference in the texture. For years and years mine never puffed until I read a blog where it explained water content, griddle temps, and flipping times perfectly. Now they puff every time :)

        2. Appears more like you expect pita instead of tortillas.

          1. I've watched my Mexican mother-in-law make handmade corn tortillas countless times and I don't recall seeing them puff up like you described. Storebought ones do, for sure.

            So we're clear on the details, the videos you saw were of handmade tortillas, correct?

            Were they cooked immediately after pressing?

            I ask because my guess of the problem (based on rudimentary scientific and cooking knowledge) is that storebought corn tortillas are already cooked, or parcooked at least, then cooled. The heat from the cooking process may leave a small air pocket inside the tortilla, which deflates as it cools then "puffs up" when it's reheated. When you press a tortilla with fresh masa you are only making one solid layer of dough. When placed on the comal (or griddle, whatever you're using) you can cook both sides to appropriate doneness, but may not develop that air pocket in the middle.

            That being said, there are nothing wrong with tortillas that don't puff up. It is not a necessary step in the procedure and would only be a problem if you wanted to slit the tortilla open and stuff it from the inside (I forget what those are called, but they have them in some parts of Mexico). If it's that important to you, try parcooking briefly on both sides, but don't cook the tortilla to an edible doneness. Let it cool for a few minutes, then put it back on the griddle to finish it off. Another suggestion is to maybe lower the heat a little. Perhaps a slower cooking process will develop the inner air pocket rather than quickly searing the tortilla on both sides. This could be why a tortilla in the middle of the rotation puffed because the first several may have brought down the temperature of the griddle.

            Again, not sure if my explanation pinpoints the problem, but it sounds logical, doesn't it?

            3 Replies
            1. re: d8200

              Yes handmade and cooked right away...In the videos I have watched they puff up...not as much as Indian Puri or Pita bread.. And yes your explanation sounds quite logical! Thanks for replying...:)

              1. re: tunapet

                I have a friend from Mexico who has made tortillas with me countless times - hers always puff, I can't ever get mine to. One thing I noticed is that she uses an old electric griddle with a hot spot, and starts them off on the hot spot, moves them to a cooler area the first time she flips them, then back to the hot spot the next time she flips them. That's when they puff. She also pats the tortilla with a spatula as it's puffing, kind of forcing the air pocket to move across the tortilla, if that makes sense? And she smacks my hand if I try to flip mine more than twice. I have tried this using two cast iron pans, but can't recreate it consistently. I do think that the ones that do puff seem more 'done' than the ones that don't. I am determined to figure it out!!

              2. re: d8200

                My corn tortillas puff every time!

              3. You need two heat levels. It is not hard.
                SeƱor Bayless has great instructions (much more succinct than I could be) found here

                1. If you are wanting tortillas for puffy tacos, put a little more water in the mix. Corn meal mix dough for puffy tacos is a little wetter.
                  If you are wanting corn tortilla taco shells for puffy tacos, you fry those in hot oil or shortening, holding them in the shell shape with your pancake turner and another long handled-utensil such as another turner. There also is a metal 'form' or shell that you can buy that holds the tortillas in shape for a taco shell.
                  This from my friends who taught me how in San Antonio, Texas, original home of Tex-Mex cooking!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: LazyCook1

                    I have been eating hand made corn tortillas almost daily for a decade. far too many my wife says...
                    Never seen a puffed up corn tortilla, ever.

                    1. re: genoO

                      When corn tortillas are made correctly, they should "puff" when flipped. They don't remain puffed once they've been taken off the comal.

                      Corn tortillas need to be pressed thin enough and the heat of the comal, griddle, skillet, flattop needs to be hot enough. If the comal is hot enough, when the pressed masa hits the heat and begins to cook, the moisture in the masa will begin to vaporize. When the tortilla is flipped and the 2nd side hits the heat, a lot of times the tortilla will expand from the steam that has developed inside the tortilla. Once the tortilla is taken off the heat, it deflates almost immediately.

                      Tortillas that have puffed during cooking are especially good for those antojitos that end up being stuffed since the first side will peel back easier.

                      The puffing also helps ensure that the masa gets cooked through since there was enough heat *inside* the tortilla to generate some steam.

                      I usually don't have too much of a problem getting tortillas to puff when cooking them. They're kind of like pancakes where the first couple are tests to get the temperature and timing right. Same with cooking corn tortillas. Once you've gotten the thickness right and the temperature adjusted, they should puff with some regularity.

                      There is nothing like a corn tortilla, made from nixtamal, hot off the comal. It is one of the divine pleasures of the world

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        Best explanation I have ever read, thanks!!