Baking - Breads, Recipe

Tortillas with Pronounceable Ingredients

Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on a bag of tortillas at the grocery store? From the ones I’ve seen there are a lot of things listed that I don’t recognize, and some I’m not sure I can even pronounce. This is another product I took for granted. A simple flatbread; one would think it would be pretty straightforward. But like so many mass-produced products, it’s more important to make it more cheaply (even though they don’t seem cheaper in the store!) by throwing in a  few chemicals than to provide a natural product and readable label.

This tortilla recipe didn’t actually come out of reading a label and deciding to make a change, but out of necessity one night when we wanted tortillas but didn’t want to go back out to the store. It was only after I found the recipe and saw how simple it was that I decided to look at a package. (On a somewhat related note, I was pleasantly surprised to see that most pita bread packages had very common, pronounceable ingredients.)

These are pretty easy to make, though they take a bit of time and elbow grease (unless you have a tortilla press). I find it easiest to roll out the tortillas in stages. Dough likes to have time to rest before it can relax and stretch. Much like we need time to cool off when we’re angry and tense, give your dough a minute to rest and it will cooperate much better. I usually start rolling one out to about a four inch diameter, then set it aside and start another and repeat until I have four done. Then I go back to number one and roll it out a little bit more, and then do the others again. I usually do three sets of rolling per tortilla to get them nice and thin. I also find it helpful to have all the tortillas rolled out before I start to cook them, stacking them with wax paper in between, to avoid overheating the pan.

When cooking them on the pan, don’t leave them too long, unless you want a more crispy tortilla. 20-30 seconds is usually plenty of time per side, even if it doesn’t look ‘cooked’. I left a few of them too long this time and it was hard to roll them without splitting. But if you leave them just the right amount of time you end up with a lovely soft and pliable tortilla. I made black bean and sweet potato burritos with this batch, and they were very tasty! You can find the tortilla recipe below the photos.

Flour Tortillas

In a mixing bowl, stir together well 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder. Rub into flour mixture 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces. Mix in to form a soft dough that is not sticky 1/2 cup, more or less, very warm tap water.

Cover dough in bowl and let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, toss lightly in flour, and return to the bowl. Cover and let rest 15-30 minutes. Working with one ball at a time, roll out very thin (should reach about 8″ diameter). Turn dough over repeatedly while rolling, dusting with flour only when necessary to prevent sticking. Brush off and flour that may remain on the surface of the tortilla. Cook on a dry, medium-hot, heavy skillet until blistered. Flip over and cook the other side, just until very lightly browned. Cool on rack. When completely cooled they can be stacked and stored in a plastic bag in the fridge or freezer.

Baking - Breads, Recipe

Bannock on an Open Fire

Like many people, I grew up thinking that bannock was a Native American tradition, but I recently learned that it is actually of Scottish origin. All those years at the campfire roasting it on a stick, and it’s really supposed to be baked as a round loaf and cut into wedges like scones. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be a fun thing to cook over an open fire. So this past weekend when I went to the beach with my family to have a hotdog roast over a fire I decided to whip up a batch of bannock dough and take it along. I added some cinnamon and vanilla to the dough to make it more like a dessert.

The thing with roasting it on a stick is that it tends to burn on the outside and still be gooey in the middle. It seemed to work best when I held it in one spot as close to the embers as possible for a brief amount of time, then rotated it a bit and held it for another short time, and so on until it was fairly dark brown all around. It still ended up being a bit gooey in the middle, but not nearly as bad as the first time I had made it!

It is also helpful to use a stick with two points. If you just put it onto the end of a single point stick the dough tends to sag and you risk losing it in the fire. With two prongs there’s more onto which the dough can cling.

Here’s the recipe I used:

  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • water

Mix together dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Add egg and sufficient water (1/4 – 1/2 c) to make a firm dough. Turn onto floured board and lightly knead.

If you would rather bake it in the oven at home, place the dough in a lightly buttered 8″ or 9″ round pan. Bake at 375F for 20 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.