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Flour Tortilla Press

Flour tortilla press is another term for the tortilla press, tortilla maker or roti maker.

If you are looking for a tortilla press that uses regular grocery-store flour, most likely you mean an electric press because the 'regular' wheat flour we buy in the grocery is too sticky and gluten-rich to be pressed well manually as the dough will tend to spring back close to its orignal shape much like rubber. An electric press breaks down the gluten while it heats and presses simultaneously and is therefore much better able to handle the job. The manual tortilla press is used most often to make corn tortillas which have less gluten.

The trick to flour tortillas is in breaking the gluten strands in the dough and this can best be done by hand rolling with a 'palote'—a rolling pin. Having said this, I have friends who swear up and down that they have made good quality flour tortillas with manual presses, specially the heavy, cast iron kind. I am almost certain they were using either a blend of or pure unbleached whole wheat flour which has a lot more fiber to break the gluten and prevent the springly stickiness of regular flour dough.

Please don't let this deter you from using a palote or rolling pin though. It is very easy and that the little extra effort to do things the old fashioned way will pay huge dividends in fabulous, authentic flavor and healthy goodness that will keep you from ever buying readymade wheat flour tortillas again. So if you want to make wheat flour tortillas, here is a good, healthy recipe without the traditional chunk of lard but which, in my humble opinion, makes tortillas that are just as tasty if not more. You can play around with the ingredients just a little to suit your conditions and tools but don't stray too far. And you can use the tortillas with almost any dish—beans, fajitas, tacos, you name it. Try them by themselves, fresh off the griddle with a little butter and a sprinkle of pepper!


2 cups whole wheat and white flour mixed 50/50
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup warm water

Making the dough:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with half of the warm water, keeping the other half in reserve, and mix into a rough dough. When the ingredients come together into a dough, add the remaining warm water a little at a time and keep kneading until you form a soft dough that comes together into a ball. In all likelihood, you will not need all the water and it is important not to add more water than you need, hence the instruction to add it a little at a time. If you end up putting too much water and the dough becomes too sticky and wet, add more dough a little at a time. The kneading is done by repeatedly pushing down with the thick part of the palm and folding the dough over. Again, it is best not to over-knead the dough, so stop as soon as you have a ball of dough that comes off the bowl and is smooth.

Cover the dough with a moist towel and set aside for half an hour. To store long term, you can pack it plastic wrap, put it in a ziploc bag and store in the freezer for 3-4 months.

Cooking the tortillas:

Roll out small golf-ball size pieces into thin circles and roast on a hot griddle on each side only long enough to see small bubbles and a couple of brown spots form on the tortilla. Then remove from the griddle and lay down on an open gas flame till it fluffs up. Turn once and you are done.

Finished tortillas should be stored in a cotton cloth lined tortilla warmer to keep the flavor and freshness.

When you see a "flour tortilla press" advertised, they probably mean corn tortillas. Or they might mean a "flour tortilla maker" which is an electric tortilla maker that both presses and cooks the tortilla at the same time. The heat relaxes the dough enough so it keeps its pressed shape. This is an option if you cannot or do not want to roll out the tortillas by hand.

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