Sourdough Tortilla

Overview: When I was growing up in Texas, a handmade flour tortilla was one of the most comforting foods I could have. So often a tortilla is treated as just a vehicle for the filling, but a just-made hot tortilla needs nothing else to be delicious. For our tortillas, we use beautiful, high-extraction single variety soft white wheat and ferment the dough with our natural leaven. Just as when I first tasted long-fermented whole-grain bread, upon tasting tortillas made the same way, my flour tortilla experience was bifurcated into before and after. These are like tortillas in technicolor.

Reprinted with permission from Bread Book by Chad Robertson with Jennifer Latham, copyright (c) 2021. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC

Photographs copyright © Liz Barclay

Prep Time

1 hour

Bake Time

30 minutes

Total Time

5-12 hours

Yield

12 7-inch tortillas

Ingredients:

½ cup (75g) discard leaven

1 ¼ cups (295g) very cold (40°F) water

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons (15g) salt (kosher, medium-coarse sea salt, or similar)

3 ½ cups (479g) Edison flour

2/3 cup (124g) lard, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and chilled

Neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, safflower, or grapeseed, for cooking the tortillas

Baker's Notes

* The leaven in this recipe is not used primarily for leavening, so you can use any discard leaven or sourdough starter that is past its peak or not being used for other purposes. Only use leaven or starter that still smells appealing.

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the leaven* (see Baker's Notes): In a large bowl, stir together the water, leaven and salt.
  2. In another large bowl, combine the flour and the lard. Use your fingers to rub the cubes of lard into the flour until the mixture has a pebbly texture and no lard pieces larger than a pea remain.
  3. Dump the flour mixture into the water mixture and stir with your hand until just combined.
  4. Knead the dough briefly. Turn it out onto a clean, un-floured work surface and knead just until in comes together as a cohesive ball. Do not knead the dough too much- those little bits of lard will make the tortillas tender and flaky.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. Overnight is best, as it develops more flavor in the dough.
  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a clean, un-floured work surface. Using a bench knife, cut the dough into twelve equal pieces, each about 80 grams or the size of a ping pong ball. Shape each piece into a ball, dusting with flour as necessary to keep it from sticking, then cover all the balls with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 20 minutes. (This short rest will make it easier to roll the balls into thin tortillas.)
  7. Using a tortilla press or a rolling pin, flatten each ball into a very thin tortilla about 7 inches in diameter.
  8. Cook the tortillas: Set a large cast-iron skillet over high hear for 2-5 minutes, until well heated. Lightly oil the skillet. Place one tortilla in the skillet and cook until dark brown and blistered in a few places on the first side, about 1 minute. Flip the tortilla and cook on the second side for 1 minute. The tortilla may puff up a little while it cooks, but it will flatten out when removed from the heat. Transfer the tortilla to a clean kitchen towel and wrap to keep warm. Repeat to cook the other tortillas the same way, adding a little more oil to the skillet as needed.
  9. Serve the tortillas warm. These are best eaten right away, but you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat quickly in a skillet before serving.

Baker's Notes

* The leaven in this recipe is not used primarily for leavening, so you can use any discard leaven or sourdough starter that is past its peak or not being used for other purposes. Only use leaven or starter that still smells appealing.


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