A couple years ago, I picked up a cast iron tortilla press at a Latin American grocery store in Chicago. Since then, I’ve enjoyed pulling it out on rainy days or when we’re looking for a fun activity that has the added bonus of taking care of dinner. All you do is buy a package of prepared tortilla flour- corn or flour, depending on your preference- and mix according to package instructions. The mix can usually be found at Walmart if you can’t get to your local Mexican foods store. After a few minutes of resting, the dough is ready to go.
Kids love any project involving dough, and tortillas are great because the dough is not as fussy as yeast dough. No rising involved. In my experience, the kids also really enjoy pressing down and then watching their dough come out of the press flat and round like a pancake.
For quantities, see the mix package and plan according to your needs
- 1 package of either Harina preparada para tortillas or the cornmeal-based Masa harina (Note: Be aware that many mixes contain various types of shortening. Check to see that it doesn’t contain transfat before buying.)
Mix up the quantity desired of mix, per package instructions. Knead and then divide into portions and allow to rest.
Note: If you can’t find the prepared flour, use 2 cups AP flour to which you work in 1/3 cup of transfat-free vegetable shortening (Crisco is now formulated without transfat), 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt. Next add about 1 cup hot water bit by bit until you have a dough. Knead for several minutes until smooth and then divide into portions. Allow to rest 30-40 minutes and then proceed.
Preheat a heavy cast iron or stainless frying pan over high heat, (high heats combined with dry cooking methods are not recommended on nonstick pans). Next, line the tortilla press with two sheets of plastic wrap. Spray both sides with nonstick spray. Place a portion of dough and press firmly.
Finally, remove the tortilla from the press and place in the pan. Turn promptly when the tortilla begins to puff up.
After making them, the kids can top them with cheese, butter, black beans, or any other quesadilla fillings that they like.
The tortillas you make will be warm, fresh and so delicious!