Makes about 12 tortillas
1 to 1¼ cups / 240 to 300ml water
1 tsp pinch of salt
In a medium bowl, combine the 1 cup / 240ml water with the salt then add the masa harina and mix well. Continue adding water 1 Tbsp at a time until you have formed a smooth and thick dough that has the consistency of stiff cookie dough.
Form 12 golf ball–size balls and lay a moist dish towel over them so they don’t dry out.
* This masa you can also use to make tamales, gorditas, corn empanadas, tlayudas, and other corn goodies!
Warm an ungreased comal or two skillets over medium heat.
Lay a precut sheet of plastic on the bottom of a tortilla press and place a ball of masa on top of the plastic. Place a second sheet of plastic on top of the ball and then squeeze the press firmly so that the dough is sandwiched between the two plates. You want the tortilla to be about ⅛ inch / 3mm thick. Open the press and remove the flattened masa, which will be stuck between the two sheets of plastic. Place it on your left palm (if you’re right-handed) and use your right hand to peel off the top sheet of plastic. Then flip it over and transfer it to your right hand, so that it rests in your right palm. Carefully peel off the other sheet of plastic, freeing the raw tortilla.
Gently deposit the raw tortilla onto the preheated comal or skillet. You should hear a faint sizzle as it hits the metal. Watch for the edge of the tortilla to begin turning opaque, a signal that it is cooking. When this happens (after 30 to 45 seconds), flip it to the other side and let it cook for 30 to 45 seconds, until the whole thing starts to turn opaque. Now flip it back to the first side and let it cook for a final 30 seconds. After the second flip, it should start to puff up a little, a sign that all of the water in the masa has evaporated and the tortilla is done.
Getting your technique down takes some fiddling. If the edges of your tortilla look grainy and dry, add 1 Tbsp water to your dough, massaging it in thoroughly. But don’t add too much water, or the masa will stick to the plastic and to the bottom of your pan. Make sure that your tortillas aren’t too thinly pressed and that the thickness is uniform, which makes it easier to flip them. You may also need to adjust the heat of your stove if you feel they’re cooking too quickly or too slowly. Once you get the moisture and temperature right, each tortilla should take a total of about 2 minutes to cook through.
As each tortilla is finished cooking, set it in a basket or a deep bowl and cover the growing stack with a dish towel to keep them warm as you add to it. Wrapped up well, in a basket or a box with a lid, they should stay warm for about 1 hour.
You can reheat a tortilla on a hot comal or in a skillet, flipping it a few times until it’s completely heated through. It’s okay if your tortilla gets a little charred. The black flecks add flavor. You can also reheat them in a stack. Begin by heating one tortilla. After you flip it, add another on top of the already hot side of the first one. After 30 seconds, flip them both together so that the cold side of the second one is now on the hot surface of the pan, and add a third tortilla to the top of the pile. Keep flipping and adding until you have as many warm tortillas as you need. There’s really no limit. Once they’re stacked, they will all keep each other warm.
Recipe Courtesy of Gabriela Camara's “My Mexico City Kitchen" Cookbook.
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