Mi mamá never used a tortilla press when making corn tortillas. She would place a bowl of water on the table. Then she would wet her fingers with water from the bowl and scoop up some masa, and clap the dough ball back and forth between her hands until it was a flat tortilla (but not too thin). She would then cook the tortilla on the warm comal and repeated this cycle until all of the masa was used.
But mi mamá also taught me a simpler way. She would make a small ball of masa, put it on a cotton dishcloth, fold the cloth over the ball and press down on it with a dinner plate. Out came a perfectly round tortilla.
Today there is a much easier way to make corn tortillas using a tortilla press. That’s how my girls make their homemade tortillas. For those of us who want to do it the old-fashioned way, please keep trying.
Place a comal (griddle or cast-iron skillet) over medium heat and allow it to heat up.
In a large mixing bowl mix flour, salt, and water for about 4 minutes. If the masa (dough) doesn’t come together well add 1 tablespoon of water at a time and mix some more.
Divide the masa into 16 dough balls and press down slightly on each one. Keep the masa covered with a dishtowel so it does not dry out while you press the tortillas.
Use a tortilla press when making corn tortillas. Place a piece of plastic wrap over each end of the tortilla press. The ball of masa will sit between the two pieces of plastic wrap during the pressing process. Place a ball of masa on one end of the tortilla press, directly on the plastic wrap. Close the tortilla press and press down on the handle, flattening the masa and creating a corn tortilla. Open the press and you should have a corn tortilla beautifully pressed.
Place the corn tortilla on the hot comal to cook for approximately 30 seconds, or until browned and slightly puffy. Turn tortilla over to brown on second side for approximately 30 seconds more, and then transfer to a tortilla warmer or basket lined with a dish towel. This is how Grandma stored hers. Continue making tortillas with the remaining masa balls.
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