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Friday Fab or Flop: Flexible Corn- and Gluten-Free Tortillas? Part 1

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The Search for the Perfect Tortilla

If you’re looking for Part 2, click here.

So, the Hubby likes Mexican food. It probably has something to do with growing up in a border state where there is a Mexican restaurant on every corner. It’s pretty much his favorite cuisine. And it’s pretty much the hardest to duplicate in an allergen-free environment.  It’s easy enough to make your own taco seasoning to season your own meat or beans however you prefer. There are a million ways to make salsa to avoid whatever you’re allergic to. But tortillas! Ay! You can’t eat Mexican cuisine without tortillas, and as far as I can tell, there are no tortillas commercially available that are free of both corn and gluten. The ones that come the closest are made from rice, so that’s no good for me, either.

I’ve been using Jaye’s tortilla recipe for several years now, and it’s a good start. The tortillas bend a little, as long as you don’t overcook them. I’ve fiddled with the recipe, changing the proportions of flour, fat and water, and every time I get a pretty similar result. It’s tasty food, just not exactly what I was hoping for in the flexibility department.

Over the summer, Jaye had a tortilla accident. You know the kind. It’s what happens when you run out of food and payday isn’t until next week. You start throwing together random things from the pantry, hoping that food will result. Fortunately, this was a happy tortilla accident (as opposed to the unhappy kind that involves blood and property damage). Tapioca starch and cooked beans, blended together as a flour base for tortillas made a VERY flexible tortilla. However, I’m not gonna lie. It was gummy. Not so bad as trying to eat oobleck, just not the sort of thing I’d make again on purpose, if you know what I mean.

So now I’m tinkering with tortillas again. I’ve tried it with almond flour (using up what I had on hand before we discovered the nut allergy), and it seems to be working. But I need the recipe to be nut-free, since my bigger boy is anaphylactic to several nuts.

Will my experiments be fab? Or another in a long line of tortilla flops? Tune in next week for the result!

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Friday’s Flip or Flop: Tortillas

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Cravings.

You know, that deep down feeling that you “just gotta have” chocolate?  Or Chinese food?  Or a really good taco?  Yeah, you know that feeling – the one that makes you reach for the phone and order take-out, because you can’t go one more minute without that yummy food.

Eating allergen-free brings the concept of cravings to a whole new level.  You can’t order in food any more.  Going to the store for something ready-made is problematic, because most foods processed through a factory contain all sorts of allergens. Usually at least one of mine.

Friday’s Flip or Flop features our attempts at satisfying our cravings.  You’ll notice there are more flops than flips.  I like to think of it as “failing forward to success.”

Flour Tex-Mex tortillas

Image via Wikipedia

Today’s flip is the all-purpose gluten-free tortilla!  Soft Tacos, burritos, tortilla chips, quesadillas, fajitas, you name it! Mexican food revolves around this circular piece of flatbread!

I was living in the middle of Nowhere, Idaho, and desperately needed gluten-free tortillas.  So I opened not 1 or 2, but 3 cookbooks, and started to synthesize a recipe for tortillas.  Having never made tortillas of any kind before, I also searched the internet for advice and tips on how to cook a tortilla.

On my first attempt, I discovered that gluten-free tortillas are much stickier than their wheat-y counterparts, and ended up with globby blobs that didn’t do much.  On my second attempt, I discovered that my gluten-free recipe was missing a key ingredient – a fat of some kind.  Oh my goodness! The difference adding in some fat (palm oil, in this case) made!  I’ll not bore you with all the details, because it took a full 6 months of flopping before I was able to flip a proper gluten-free tortilla.  There is a definite learning curve to making a great gluten-free tortilla and learning the little tricks takes time.

Gluten-Free Tortillas

2 Cups Gluten-free flour (my current mix is 1 part sweet rice flour, 1 part brown rice flour, 1 part tapioca flour)
1/3 Cup Palm oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar (sugar carmelizes and contributes to browning)
3/4 Cup Warm water

tortilla press 001

Mix dry ingredients together.
Cut in palm oil.
Stir in warm water until you have a stiff dough.
Separate dough into 6 or 8 balls.
Press or roll between lightly floured parchment paper (makes clean up sooo much easier!)
Cook on very hot griddle until just toasted, about 20 seconds per side.

Tips:

  • After flipping the tortilla once, use your spatula to press on the tortilla.  This encourages the tortilla to cook quickly, and helps the bubbles form the pliability you need.
  • Do not cook too long because these gluten-free tortillas dry out quickly, and your burritos will be sad.
  • Other fats or oils can be used – you might need to adjust the amount depending on how saturated a fat you’re using, and whether or not it is liquid at room temperature.

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