Tortillas have always been a staple in my home. When I was younger—much younger—I remember standing on my tippy-toes on a yellow stool out in Tome, New Mexico, watching my Nana and Tia make tortillas. I was amazed that these tiny women could knead and roll out dough with such intensity. I also distinctly remember they didn't have a recipe (a hard concept to grasp since, at the time, I had to quadruple check the directions on how to boil). My Nana and Tia always had tortillas on hand and whenever we went on vacation they'd give my dad a dozen or so to take with him so we could have tortillas no matter where we were around the country.
My mom would make homemade tortillas, too, but sometimes it was easier to just buy them. In New Mexico, packaged tortillas taste just as good as homemade, but in Georgia, they taste very processed to us, so we've been buying them out of a desperate need to have tortillas in our lives. For the rest of our time here, and when we move, I'll make them, because they are SO much better than anything store bought. I was always afraid that if we made them they wouldn't taste as good as they do from home. But I'm happy to say I'm completely wrong. These taste just like home.
The following recipe is what my mom, Tia Frances, and my other aunts use to make tortillas. Unfortunately, neither my Nana or Tia are around anymore so I'm not sure if they used it, too, but I'm willing to bet my Tia Frances got the recipe from them.
I have to warn you about one "ingredient" that's not mentioned, but absolutely necessary. This is going to sound completely cheesy, but I swear it's true. You have to make these when you're in a good mood, because they need to be made with love. My husband and I made them once while we were arguing and they were horrible. To this day he'll say that they were "fine," but they really weren't good. Trust me on this and really put your heart into making them.
originally adapted from Simply Simpatico
makes around a bakers dozen
4 cups white flour
3 tsp baking powder
3 tsp salt
4 tablespoons lard (or shortening)
1 1/2 cups very hot water (let the faucet run until it's as hot as it gets)
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut in lard or shortening. Make a well in the center and add water, a small amount at a time, to form a dough. Knead dough with hands in bowl until it's smooth and feel elastic. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes. Form dough into egg-sized balls and flatten between palms. Preheat ungreased cast-iron skillet to a medium-high heat. With rolling pin, roll each ball into 6-inch, thin circles (or to the size of your skillet). Cook for approximately 30 seconds to 2 minutes (depending on how hot skillet is) on each side until tortilla looks slightly speckled and golden brown. Cover with a clean towel to keep tortillas warm and soft until served. Store tortillas in a plastic bag for later use.