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« Egg CSA | Main | My morning jelly »

Putting the Tex back in your Mex

Gluten-free gastronomes may or may not lament the loss of Tex-Mex cuisine staple: the flour tortilla. I’m partial to corn, myself, but there’s just something texturally exquisite about dipping a flour tortilla in queso or the sheer bendy-ness of flour tortillas.

Lisa from Homesick Texan came over on this glorious Spring day to show me the ropes of tortilla-making. There are a ton of corn tortilla recipes out there, and we followed what seems to be the standard: masa harina, water, pinch of baking soda and salt. In this post, I’ll focus on the not-so-available gluten-free flour tortilla recipe!

Los dos presses. I borrowed a press from a friend, and Lisa brought one, too. We started by making our flour tortilla dough. Though, by making them gluten free, it probably wasn’t necessary to let the dough rest (as you would for the gluten-ful ones.) We modified her regular gluten flour tortilla recipe by using the following gluten-free flour mix in place of all-purpose flour, and for these we used leaf lard (my new favourite GF baking substance) instead of oil and milk.

Here’s how to make your own all-purpose, gluten free flour mix:

I adapted Jeanne’s mix to suit my needs:

1 heaping cup white rice flour

1/2 cup arrowroot starch

1/2 cup sweet rice flour (Mochiko)

1 tsp xanthan gum

Note: We made a batch with tapioca starch in place of the arrowroot and the results were gummy and too bitter, which is my typical tapioca starch experience as of late. So in this case I wouldn’t recommend subbing anything besides maybe cornstarch (but haven’t tried it!) for the arrowroot.

Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas

adapted from (and with) Homesick Texan

1. Mix and heat the following in a small saucepan on LOW heat:

3 Tablespoons leaf lard

2/3 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter (for touch of flavor)

After a few minutes the lard will melt down and incorporate into the water. Keep stirring the wet mix (to keep it well-incorporated) as you pour it into a large mixing bowl containing 2 cups gluten-free flour mix (recipe above).

I ditched my spoon and mixed with my hands. Unlike many GF baking endeavors, this dough won’t require you to grease your hands first (because of the leaf lard!) Incorporate all dry flour into the lard/water mix by smashing it together and balling it up with your hands, only add a tad more water if the dough won’t ball and stick together (still too crumbly.) Tear off a little crumb from your dough ball and taste it (yes, it’s okay to do this.) Does it need salt? Add another pinch if it’s bland.

2. Place a cast-iron skillet or flat griddle on a med-low burner and let it heat up. You don’t need any butter or oil, although, the better seasoned your skillet the better. We added just enough olive oil to dampen the skillet when it dried out and started smoking from the heat.

3. Now, get out your tortilla press! Tear off two small sheets of parchment paper (big enough to cover the diameter of the press); smooth and drop a ball about the size of a heaping Tablespoon onto the parchment covered press, place top parchment sheet over it and press.

4. Peel back the top piece of parchment paper carefully. Then peel off the other piece of paper, dropping the flat, uncooked tortilla in your hand, and return the paper to the press for re-use.

5. Drop flat tortilla dough on hot skillet and cook it for about 45 seconds to 1 min. Look for little bubbles pushing the dough up (they won’t pop through the dough like a pancake.) Flip with a spatula and notice little browning spots where your bubbles were. Cook for another 45 sec to 1 min on this side. The tortilla will start to puff up forming a little convex, at which point flip again. Cook for about 30 seconds more, or until this side, which is sorta concave, puffs out equally.

Puffs on both sides! This is pure air and flake!Real-deal flake-age, the signature feature of a gluten flour tortilla!And, for the REAL test: Homesick Texan’s taste buds. Verdict: She likes it! Looks, tastes and mostly feels like a regular gluten flour tortilla.

It bends without breaking!!! (And, yes, photographing my tortilla’s crease feels slightly obscene) On the flip side. This taco’s not letting any savory bits looseQuestion for any experienced gluten-free bakers who use leaf lard regularly: would you let the dough ‘rest’ overnight in the fridge in plastic wrap for any reason?

Reader Comments (13)

those are GORGEOUS! what an interesting link about lard, too. I have a friend who just started selling the meat from his Mangalitsa pigs and I hear that their lard is wooonderful. I have a baker friend who even made lard "buttercream" icing with it.

March 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermelissa

Thanks Melissa! Woah, hold the phone, LARD buttercream icing!!??

March 22, 2010 | Registered CommenterKate

I love you so much you have NO IDEA. :)

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Blymire


March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

These look AMAZING! You have done such a service. (and Lisa, who always rocks.) Leaf lard is incredible in gluten-free baking. Having worked with it a lot, I can't imagine that you really need to do anything differently here. Seems to me that when we let gf doughs rest overnight, they become hard as rock, and then you have to manipulate them for hours to get them back to the state they were in before.

so I say, go forth!

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentershauna

Fabulous! Looking terrific, gals! Good job! And thanks for the link. Also, I wonder if the tapioca starch you've been using has gone bad? It does do that. It shouldn't smell or taste like anything. If it smells or tastes bitter, throw it out.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

YUM! I'm going to have to scrounge up some arrowroot starch, eh? Tapioca starch is so cheap, I've been relying on it. But, these results look worth having yet another bag of powdery substance in the house. :)

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna

Thank you thank you thank you!!!!! We have been GF but recently had to eliminate corn too!!! & we LOVE mexican food!

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErinn

Good to know Shauna, I can only imagine a rock-hard, slumbering leaf lard dough situation :)

Jeanne, you know, that might be the case, but we go through it so quickly that it usually doesn't have the chance to go off. But hell, I'll keep it in the fridge from now on as a precaution.

Deanna, I'm the muffin queen as of late (feeding/tricking my writing workshop kiddos with gluten free treats) and I've enjoyed arrowroot's properties more than the tapioca, which can make them too gummy. Bob's Red Mill brand is consistently available out in the grocery world; lots of places sell it in bulk section (pre-bagged).

Erinn! Oh, noes! Not corn, too! Well taco away, again now my dear. Enjoy!

March 22, 2010 | Registered CommenterKate

Thank you for sharing and helping us to survive gf life without feeling deprived. You are geniuses, can't wait to try recipe!

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaula

where can I find leaf lard? Where would they be selling that?

March 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie

Stephanie, depending on where you live, leaf lard is likely pretty easy to get. Lisa recommended going to a butcher shop (or the butcher section of your grocer). Personally, I am interested in humanely and sustainably raised meats so your local whole foods (or similar store) or farmers market would be a good place to start for these types of meats.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterKate

I would rest the dough just for the sake to let the flours absorb moisture, found this works well with bread.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLori

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