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I would like to make a tortilla that is softer and more elastic, allowing for large burritos with lots of filling

I've been using the following recipe below which yields good results, however it is not soft or elastic enough to handle large amounts of filling.

1/4c butter
1/2c water
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 3/4c flour

I knead the dough and then immediately cook.

RESULTS

The tortillas taste great fresh, but after sitting in a zip-lock bag for a few hours the become much less pliable. I generally re-heat them with a damp towel in the microwave which makes them pliable enough to wrap filling in.

I've read this question about how to make "Big, Fluffy" tortillas, and it notes letting the dough rest is a key step. I did try this, and I ended up getting more air bubbles but other than that they are pretty much the same.

I would like to figure out how restaurants like Moe's make and prepare their tortillas which are suitable for large burritos. I am open to suggestions in technique or ingredients.

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What flour are you using, and how long are you kneading? For elastic, you generally need more gluten (=bread flour, more kneading), but this also opposes the "soft" part, if you understand "soft" as in fluffy. –  rumtscho Aug 29 '12 at 16:07
    
If your tortillas are of the thickness you want, then the answer to making a larger tortilla is to use more dough for each. –  derobert Aug 29 '12 at 16:12
    
Flour - I am using all purpose, unbleached flour and kneading until it forms a dough. I don't keep kneading like I would a pasta or bread dough. –  Brian Aug 29 '12 at 16:26
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Usually restaurants that are doing mission-style burritos (which I think is what Moe's does) use 12-14" tortillas and also (perhaps most importantly) a tortilla steamer. By vigorously steaming the tortillas, they become more stretchy, thus they can be filled more without ripping. The foil that is then wrapped around the burritos ensure that as the tortilla cools down and drys out that it will continue to not rip. –  djmadscribbler Aug 29 '12 at 17:52
    
@djmadscribbler That answers my question! I always called them "American Burritos" But now I know the name and the origin of the style. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_burrito –  Brian Aug 29 '12 at 18:58
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_burrito

Two key technologies that made the San Francisco burrito possible are the large flour tortilla and tortilla steamers, which together increase the flexibility, stretch, and size of the resulting tortilla. The tortilla steamer saturates the gluten-heavy tortilla with moisture and heat, which increase the capacity of the tortilla to stretch without breaking. This in turn allows for the size of the San Francisco burrito. Corn tortillas, the original indigenous pre-Columbian form of the tortilla, cannot achieve either the size or the flexibility of the flour tortilla, and thus cannot be used to make a San Francisco burrito. A few San Francisco taquerias grill the tortillas instead of steaming them, using heat and oil instead of steam; and a few grill the finished product before the final step of wrapping it in aluminum foil.

The aluminum foil wrapping, which is present whether the customer is eating in the restaurant or taking out, acts as a structural support to ensure that the tortilla does not rupture. One of the main difficulties of the San Francisco burrito is the issue of structural integrity, but skilled burrito makers consistently produce huge burritos that do not burst when handled or eaten. A successful large burrito depends on an understanding of the outer limit of potential burrito volume, correct steam hydration, proper wrapping/folding technique, and assuring that excess liquid has been removed from the burrito ingredients prior to inclusion.

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I'm going to second the steaming! –  lemontwist Aug 29 '12 at 23:43
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Steaming your tortilla is the best way. (Just like Chipotle).

I saw this steamer insert on Ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/111297437242?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

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