“Oh my, these tortillas are fantastic – man, I miss good, flour tortillas so much!” and I gobble another one. One of Nikki’s cousins eyes me suspiciously. He’s 13 and in that curious and not-too-cool-to-talk-to-adults-phase.
“Why don’t you just go to your local grocery store and buy them?” he asks, in between mouthfuls of his own.
“Jacob, I live in Belgium, not San Antonio. You can’t get homemade tortillas in Belgium, okay?” I explain.
He blinks, then frowns. “Yeah, I guess not. That sucks,” he deadpans.
“Yeah, it really does,” I tell him.
I decided then and there that it was time – time to conquer a next step in my Tex-Mex challenge. Nikki had always told me her great-grandmother made a stack of tortillas every morning. Why couldn’t I give it a go? I thought perhaps the hold up was the ingredients – lard or crisco are hard to come by in Belgium. . . until I found this beautiful recipe. I bought a tortilla press in Texas and tucked it into my suitcase. I must admit, these are pretty good – especially for Belgian standards. The recipe makes 8 tortillas – but if you’re going to go to all this effort, you might as well double it.
2 tablespoons (28 g) butter
¾ cup (180 ml) milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups (250 g) flour (and a sprinkle more for kneading)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Put milk and butter in a pot and turn on medium-low. Heat until butter is melted then turn off heat. Add vegetable oil.
In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour in melted butter, milk, and oil and stir until a sticky ball is created. Place dough on a floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes until dough is firm and well combined. Cover the dough with damp dish or paper towel and let it rest for 1 hour.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Cover again and let it rest for 30 minutes (the first time I made these, I was distracted with kids and it ended up resting for over an hour the second time – the result was more like, gordita thickness – so just keep an eye on the clock. Unless gorditas are what you’re looking for). After 30 minutes, roll each ball on a floured surface, and press into a 4-inch (10 cm) circle. Place in a tortilla press or roll with a rolling pin until it is a thin 8-inch (20 cm) circle. Keep rolled-out tortillas covered until ready to cook.
Using a comal or a cast-iron skillet, cook each tortilla on high for 30 seconds on one side, flip, then cook for 1 minute on the opposite side. It should start to puff. Then flip again and cook for 30 more seconds. Place cooked tortillas in a basket lined with cloth. Repeat until all balls have been cooked.