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Homemade Flour Tortillas

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hi all:

Our restaurant is attempting to make handmade thin, Sonoran-style flour tortillas for burritos (14 inch) and we are running into a few problems.

The recipe is fine, they taste good and they are soft. However, they are a bit Chewy and too Thick. Im thinking it might be the type of flour we are using or possibly our technique.

The best flour we have tried so far is the Smart and Final brand Bread Flour. Bread flour was recommended on many recipes for the thin Sonoran-style tortillas; it seems that all-purpose or low gluten flour is for the thicker, Texas tortillas. Others we have tried are Smart and Final All-Purpose and La Pina brand flour.

Also, we are using Baking powder, salt and Lard which we get from the Carnitas. After we make the dough, we let it rest for 1 hour

When we try to roll them out, it gets difficult to roll them, without the gluten stretching back, around the 10 inch mark and we cannot seem to roll them thin enough. We are currently using a small rolling pin, but we are going to try the tapered pastry pins. Also, possibly rolling the dough in between sheets of wax paper?

Are we using the right type of flour? Are there any techniques that we can use?

I have little knowledge on baking, so I was hoping to see if you guys had any suggestions on how to make them thinner and less chewy.


post #2 of 26
I'm sorry you haven't gotten answers. I have this problem too. Since the problem is the gluten, work the dough less, rest it. roll it out some, rest it some more and roll it some more is all I can think of to suggest.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 26
I had a similar problem when making parothas (Indian flat bread). I think my problem was that I used too much flour to keep the dough from sticking.

Try using more fat.
post #4 of 26
Hi Jerome,

Posting your recipe would help.

Make sure your flour is well hydrated before kneading the dough: mix all the ingredients together until doughy. Let the dough rest 10 min before kneading.
Knead (5 min) then separate portions by cutting (not by stretching) in individual balls let rest 10-15 min before using (rolling).
Ideally place well wrapped in the refrigerator up to many hours. (cold dough will give rather then resist)

When you roll the dough don't pull or stretch it: place flour on the counter, the ball on top, roll from the middle away from you, turn 1/4 turn, repeat. The dough should give rather then stretch like a rubber ban by rolling this way. Make the most of every roll, keep the amount of rolls to a minimum.

If this fails, here are trial ideas
increase your water (sticky dough will get less sticky after kneading)
Like Kevinvilla said: increase the fat

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #5 of 26
that sounds so good! when you get the recipe down right, share it if you please.
post #6 of 26


Did you ever get your tortilla recipe fixed?

I had the same problem with my tortillas using gold medal flour.

I switched to La Pina flour and had the best results.

I used La Pina 3 cups

salt 1 tsp

Clabber Girl baking powder 1 level tsp

Crisco shortening 3 level tsp

Hot Water about 1 cup or to feel.


I use my hands to mix in the water.

I kneed it for a few minutes then I just roll them out.

If I make too much masa I put the masa in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

It is best to make the masa and roll them out fresh though.


The recipe use to be on the back of the flour.

I switched to Crisco for the health reason.

post #7 of 26

IMO, the flour doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference. Portion out the dough, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before rolling on a lightly floured board. You'll be able to roll it as thin as you like without it springing back.


For what it's worth, I use a homemade French rolling pin for mine.

post #8 of 26

You might try using a tortilla instead of rolling them by hand. This can help keep the thickness level consistent for every batch. Having a press also can help cut back on clean up time, as a little bonus.

post #9 of 26

i have the same problem and concern as the topic starter, any other ideas for me to try?

i need to make thin 11in to 15in tortilla, also need a flexible and stretchy tortilla, how to achieve this? use glutten flour?


thank you

post #10 of 26

I don't think you can use Thin and Stretchy in the same sentence. We use the Gordito 5" tort for or Breakfast burritos and 10" flour taco salad bowls and wraps. I would think  "thin" would be harder to make soft and pliable.

YouTube - Tortilla, Chapati, Flatbread Machine - BE&SCO WEDGE PRESS COMBO -


post #11 of 26

Phil has it right.

If you are rolling, then you roll out about 5'. Then the dough needs to relax again, keeping the gluten in check.

Then roll your large circles.

If you are making a large run of dough a conditioner will really help. No second rest.

dough conditioner  PZ44

post #12 of 26

thank you panini,

just to make sure  your suggestion, i should add Dough Conditioner to add more elasticity?? 

im trying to achieve tortilla that are elastic like the one in Chipotle / Panchero / Qdoba Mexican Grill

post #13 of 26
Originally Posted by tiyo View Post

thank you panini,

just to make sure  your suggestion, i should add Dough Conditioner to add more elasticity?? 

im trying to achieve tortilla that are elastic like the one in Chipotle / Panchero / Qdoba Mexican Grill

Tiyo, why wouldn't a 12 or 14" Gordito Tortilla work, is that a dry or wet heating method at Chipotle Mexican Grill ????????????////



post #14 of 26


what is the difference between dry and wet heating method? excuse my lack of experience.


i have yet to try the gordito tortilla, i will try them tho.


post #15 of 26


a conditioner or enhancer will give you a more uniform dough, it creats a nice enviornment for the yeast.

It will give you earlier  and longer pliability. It will reduce the MEMORY. That is what you are dealing with.

When you roll out a large circle the dough snaps back.



post #16 of 26


Originally Posted by tiyo View Post


what is the difference between dry and wet heating method? excuse my lack of experience.


i have yet to try the gordito tortilla, i will try them tho.


Hi Tiyo, one method takes moisture out, the other puts moisture in. What I'm saying is, the chewiness of the Tortilla could be in the reheating process and not the making of the tortilla. If I microwave a tortilla and pan heat a tortilla, there is a difference in texture. We make breakfast burritos for or morning breakfast crowd, we keep the foil wrapped burritos in a "grab and go" warmer, the longer the foil wrapped burrito is in the warmer, and steams in the foil wrapper, the chewier the tortilla............Like I said try different methods of heating up the tortilla, you have to know how much moisture, is to much moisture...............Let me know if I can help in this process, we use a lot of tortillas for many different ways........................ChefbillyB



post #17 of 26

Tiyo, this is what I use for Fajitas, breakfast burritos and soft tacos. you will see they are thicker than a normal tortilla.........Sorry the picture came out a bit blurry, couldn't get a good close up, I hope you get the idea.................The best................ChefBillyB






post #18 of 26

thank you so much for all the great info, chefBillyB and chefPanini

post #19 of 26

thank you so much for the great info, chef BillyB and chef panini.

post #20 of 26

Wow! I am sorry I didn't see this sooner.  The larger Sonorencias tortillas, or sobaqueras (a bit larger), are a bit temperamental, but they are very doable for both home and restuarant use. It is hard to describe in words the exact process of making the giant tortillas/sobaqueras/sonorencias.  However, the key things you will need is a soft, smooth and looser dough than normal (requiring a touch more water, touch more lard, and touch less baking powder); as well as technique to stretch and cook them appropriately.


Since I am not sure of the exact recipe you are currently using, here is a link to a tortilla article that I did for ChefTalk. The advice I will share in this thread is based off of this basic recipe:


1) Use all purpose flour.  Plain and simple.  No need for bread flour at all as too much gluten development is likely part of your problem.


2) When making sobaqueras/sonorencias (i.e. the giant tortillas), you should be using little to no baking powder in the recipe.  I personally use a little bit because without it, the tortillas of that size will tend to take on a texture-less appearance and mouthfeel (I hate that word, but that is the best way to describe it.)  Plus, too much baking powder does result in a masa that's difficult to work with.  I don't know the scientific explanation.  I just know that the more BP I use, the tougher and more elastic the tortillas become.


3) Based on the recipe included in my article, for regular sized tortillas, you would use 1/4 cup lard.  I would up this amount just a touch.  When I make my 15-17" tortillas, I usually use a bit more than a 1/4 cup but no where near 1/2 cup; maybe use an addition tablespoon or two only at first.  The additional lard give the masa a smoother feel, softer texture, and will make the masa a bit more easy to work with.


4) You will need to UP your water by a lot.  The recipe in the article for 9" tortillas calls for 1 cup of warm water plus a bit additional to incorporate the remaining dry ingredients.  For sobaqueras/sonorencias, you may be nearing the 2 full cups mark for water.  Since this is for restaurant use and you want don't want to waste too much dough while perfecting the recipe, I would recommend you start with 1 1/2 cups very warm water, and incorporate as quick as you can and try not to go much beyond that amount until you have experimented a few times to know the proper feel of the masa.


5) for 9 " tortillas, you will get between 12-15 tortillas using the 3 cup flour recipe in the article.  For 13-15" tortillas, divide the dough into only 8 equal pieces. 


6) with the increased water and increased lard, you will have a very smooth and soft dough.  It shouldn't be too sticky but may have some tackiness.  When you divide the masa and coat the pieces with lard, set them out individually on a dusted table/cutting surface COVERED.  Doing so prevents the divided balls from reforming into a single large mass if they were sitting in a bowl together.  Then, rest them for at least 20 minutes but 30-1hr is great too. 


7) Because this dough is so much softer than normal, dust your rolling pin and rolling surface well before rolling.  You may need to continue dusting after every few strokes and/or when you flip the tortilla that you are rolling. 


8) you should be able to roll the tortillas easily to 10"+ .  Therefore, roll it out to this size then pull it off your rolling surface to stretch it the rest of the way to 15".  This is where it gets tricky since you don't stretch it as you would an average tortilla.  As with average tortillas, you will gently pull the edges of the tortillas as it sits on your palm/arm.  But it will soon become too big for regular stretching, AND you need to move quickly so that it doesn't OVER-stretch and become too thin in the center (leading to uneven cooking.)  So you need to do a series of flips/passes between your two arms to complete the stretching process--basically you are just transferring the tortilla from one arm to the back of the other.  It is a little hard to describe so I will try my best here.  Let's say you are starting with rolled-out 10" tortilla draped over your left side (forearm and palm facing up.)  To transfer it to the back of you right arm and hand, sweep your right arm UNDER your left arm, catching the longest edge of the tortilla on the back of your mid-forearm of your right arm.  Gently roll your your left arm towards you to help get the tortilla off of your left arm, while simultaneously rolling your right arm away from you so as to pick up the slack of the tortilla.  You should now end up with the tortilla draped over your right palm and forearm.  Reposition/center the tortilla on your right arm, and now repeat the process back to the left arm.  Do this a couple of times to get the size you desire.  It is this step that is the most temperamental since the center of the tortilla will thin out QUICKLY.  With some practice, you will see which edges of the tortilla need to be stretched most.  You may even be able to do the whole thing without the series of arm passes. 


9) If you are cooking and serving the tortillas fresh, then cook them as you normally would making sure to cook thoroughly.  Once the masa is made and divided, rolling and cooking a tortilla to order should take 5 minutes max.  So if you only serve a few each night, roll and cook them to order.  If, however, you are slammed with tortilla orders, you may need to pre-cook a batch for each night's service.  But if you go this route, AND you plan to reheat when firing the order, you should slightly under-cook them since tortillas of this size can overcook and become crispy very easily. 


I notice you are in Orange County.  I am local to you and can stop in ANY TIME to demonstrate.  Send me a pvt. message if interested.

post #21 of 26

thank you so much for the depth and lengthy info chef BenRias.

post #22 of 26

I have been making tortillas since I was 8 years old.  I am now 52.  I always dust the dough ball before I roll it out. And keep turning the tortilla 1/4-1/2 clockwise.  The flour dusting also helps the tortillas from sticking to each other if making a large batch for mealtime and piling them up.  I hope this helps.   

post #23 of 26

Hi, i just purchased a commercial dough press for my kitchen the problem we have is after the dough is pressed into tortillas and cooked the tortillas become a bit hard and difficult to roll into wraps, but if we use the same mix and roll out with a rolling pin the wraps are good, any ideas of extra ingredients to add softness and pilability would be great. thanks


p.s. we are using the same basic mix mentioned in the threads.

post #24 of 26


Edited by Antilope - 7/11/13 at 11:18am
post #25 of 26
It took some doing, but after asking the folks at St. Mary's Tortilla Factory in Tucson, AZ, they told me that they do NOT use baking powder. No matter how thin you roll the tortilla, the baking powder puff it up.
post #26 of 26
Make that "puffs" it up.
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