Tortillas de Harina

These tortillas have been on the menu at Frith Street for over fifteen years. They are combined with guacamole, pico de gallo sauce and ceviche de camaron to form an interesting and refreshing starter or light lunch dish.

Ingredients

  • 150 ml water
  • 25 g fresh yeast or 1 sachet dried yeast
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 700 g bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 heaped tbsp lard or vegetable shortening

Method

Making the Tortilla Dough

Mix the water, yeast and sugar in a bowl, stir and leave for 10 minutes. The amount of water in this and all bread recipes is of necessity imprecise due to so many variables: type of flour, varying hardness of the water, and atmospheric humidity to name just three. 100 ml of water is probably too low, but a few drops extra can easily be worked in if the dough refuses to form a manageable ball.

Put the flour, salt and fat into a mixer or food processor and work briefly until the dough has the texture of coarse crumbs, then add the water/yeast mixture and re-work until a ball is formed. Remove the dough and knead by hand until you have an elastic and shiny ball. Lightly oil a bowl, place the dough in it and cover with clingfilm, then leave at room temperature until risen by at least 50 per cent: about 2 hours.

Forming the Tortillas (traditional method)

Shape the dough into golf ball-sized pieces then flatten out into discs. Lightly flour your work table and rolling pin then roll the dough into as thin circles as you can manage. As you produce these masterpieces, lay them on a floured tray and cover with a damp cloth until you have used up all the dough. Your first efforts may look pretty hopeless, but you will be an expert by the time they are all done; the early assays can be trimmed or re-rolled if too embarrassing. The finished product should be about the same thickness as a pancake.

Forming the Tortillas (with a pasta machine)

This is rather easier than the above method, assuming you have a hand-roller type of pasta machine. Form the dough into tennis ball-sized pieces and lightly flour them. Put these through the rollers until you are down to the penultimate setting. The resulting sheet of slightly sticky dough should be laid out on a floured work surface and then, using a 10 cm pastry cutter, make your tortillas. These must be laid on a floured tray in a single layer and kept cool until needed.

Cooking the tortillas

Tortillas are always cooked on a flat iron griddle. A heavy frying pan will do but I’ve had very good results recently using a ridged grill pan. Whatever your pan, it should be very hot. Grill or griddle them for 2 minutes on each side, maybe less; they should be light brown and definitely risen.

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