TORTILLA PRESS CAST IRON
A tortilla press called a “tortilladora” in Mexico, is a simple metal or wooden tool has a base, top, and handle used to make corn tortillas. Balls of masa are placed in the center of the press, the pressure applied and the dough is flattened into a round, flat tortilla.
Tortilla Press Cast Iron Silver
A tortilla press is used to make only corn tortillas. Flour tortillas are normally rolled thin with a wood rolling pin. Learn about the Mexican tortilla press cast iron the one and only!
Before The Mexican Tortilla Press
The traditional method for making corn tortillas (tlaxcalli is the Indian word and tortilla is the Spanish word) was to flatten balls of fresh dough between your hands. A skilled tortilla maker can pat the dough back and forth and create a perfectly round, thin, corn cake (tortilla). Another method was to flatten the dough on a banana leaf, turning the leaf with one hand and patting with the other to form a nice round tortilla. The “modern” way to make tortillas is with a press, or to buy them from the local tortilla factory.
The Classic Tortilla Press
The primary advantage of the cast iron press is “leverage” and weight and makes your pressing job a little easier. If you are making lots of tortillas frequently then this may be a good way to go. The downside is the press is heavy to lift and move around (about 6 – 8 pounds).
Cast Iron Tortilla Press Sizes
Typically the tortilla press ranges in size from 6″ up to 8″. The traditional versions are still made in Mexico and South America although products are being made in China now as well. Most of the Chinese made products are aluminum or plastic so we suggest you steer clear of those.
The typical Mexican tortilla press has a “silver” painted on coating normally “crudely” applied. The purpose of the coating is to prevent the cast iron from rusting. Don’t be concerned about the “paint job” because you never put the dough directly on the surface. The “rustic” nature of the “authentic” Mexican made tortilla press is part of the fun of Mexican cooking. These presses tend to be less expensive. We don’t sell this style of press.
How To Make Corn Tortillas with Tortilla Press
- Prepare the corn, make the masa dough or use masa harina, corn flour.
- Take a small amount of dough and roll it between your hands into a ball.
- Place a sheet of plastic wrap, or a plastic bag and cover the plates of the press to prevent sticking.
- Place the masa ball in the center of the press base, sit the top of the press on top of the ball and press the handle downward to “press” out the tortilla.
Fun Fact about How to Make Homemade Corn Tortillas
Care For Your Tortilla Press
Using the plastic “baggie” method for making your tortillas you clean up will be quick and easy. Simply wipe off the bags so you can reuse them (no need to toss them out each time). Then wipe the press clean and place paper toweling between the plates to absorb any moisture.
About Corn Flour – Masa
The Spanish name for corn flour dough is masa. The traditional method of making masa is to boil field corn in a solution of “lime”, called “cal” and water. The corn is then washed thoroughly and crushed with a metate y mano, or a corn mill (molino). The process can be lengthy but rewarding. The flavor of fresh corn tortillas is by far superior to the pre-made flour variety (masa).
Pre-Made Masa Flour
If you are lacking time or inclination to make homemade masa then you may want to consider buying a premade masa flour. The two most common store brands are Quaker and Maseca, with Maseca being the superior product. To use this product you just add water, stir, let the dough rest, then roll and flatten. It is much less work than grinding your own corn and still a rewarding process. Both the store brands use GMO corn.
How to Make Homemade Corn Tortillas
The making of corn tortillas dates back to the Aztecs when corn was the diet staple and tortillas were the “flatbread” of the culture. Corn tortillas were formed by hand and a skilled cook could “pat out” a fresh, perfectly round tortilla in about a minute without the use of any equipment like we use today.
Many rural people in Mexico still make their tortillas by hand even though locally made, fresh tortillas are easy to come by.
Fresh Tortillas – Steps And Recipe
This recipe uses masa harina (corn flour) readily available in most regions of the U.S. Our favorite masa is our organic white masa. If you want to be even more adventuresome you can make your own masa from scratch. See Resources for a link to our recipe.
- 2 cups masa harina
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup warm water
- Makes: 12- 6-inch tortillas
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms into a dough.
Dry masa flour
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface such as a cutting board or your counter top. Need the dough for about 3 to 4 minutes until it becomes smooth and no longer sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about an hour.
Masa dough holding for 1 hour
- Divide the tortilla dough into 12 equal size pieces. Keep the dough covered as you work. Take one piece at a time and roll it between your hands to form a ball.
Masa dough being rolled into a ball
- Open the tortilla press and lay a piece of plastic wrap on the bottom of the press. Set the ball of dough on the plastic wrap and flatten the dough by pressing down on it with the palm of your hand. Now lay the 2nd piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough.
Ball of masa dough, ready to press
- Close the press and press down firmly a few times until the tortilla is flattened. The tortilla should be thin and round. This takes a little practice. They may not be “perfect” looking at first.
Pressing the masa dough in the tortilla press
Completed fresh corn tortilla on a plate.
Tortilla Making Tips
- You must allow the dough to rest, either one hour at room temperature or 30 minutes, refrigerated or the dough will crumble when you try to make your tortilla.
- Never place dough directly on the surface of the tortilla press; always use a sheet of plastic wrap over the press plates.
- Hand tortilla presses are for corn tortillas only; they will not press out flour tortilla dough.
Supplies Need For Making Tortillas From Scratch
- Tortilla press – While you can make tortillas with your hands a tortilla press is a real time saver.
- Organic Masa Flour – If you don’t want to treat and grind your own corn you can purchase a high-quality masa flour.
- Dried Corn – Field corn can be white, yellow or blue.
- Cal (Calcium Hydroxide)
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