I have tried a variety of experiments to make corn tortillas, but the results have been far from satisfactory

The only masa I can get this corner of the world is imported from Mexico or USA and is chilled or frozen

The masa and water mix goes soft after I let it stand for 30 to 60 minutes

I use a typical tortilla press, but it never gets them really thin, just flat, say match thickness?

The main problem is that using a well seasoned cast iron comal they take longer to cook than I would expect (more than one minute), and tend to dry out too much, and don't like being bent. If I stop cooking them after a minute they taste very uncooked

They taste so so ... the kids will eat them all day made up as Quesadillas

Where am I going wrong?

  • all the recipes I've ever read just say to cook until bubbles form, and usually that takes me well over a minute. To use the tortillas I usually have to warm over a flame or in the microwave to soften. – justkt Nov 11 '10 at 14:07
  • I assume this is about Mexican/American-style tortillas; if not, please revise the cuisine tag as appropriate. – Aaronut Nov 11 '10 at 16:41
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    If you're planning on eating them soon after cooking, it's probably good to either put them in a tortilla warmer (like restaurants use on the tables - they close tightly) or cover with a slightly damp towel, so they can't dry out. – Cascabel Nov 11 '10 at 18:42
  • @Aaronut thanks for the retag - can you delete a tag from future use? – TFD Nov 11 '10 at 21:57
  • You mean prevent a tag from being used in the future, i.e. blacklist it? Only the admins can do that; it's reserved for extreme cases. – Aaronut Nov 12 '10 at 1:59

They may be too thick. You can try placing several pieces of paper or thin cardboard into your tortilla press to get thinner tortillas. (If you aren't already using plastic or wax paper to press the tortillas, then you'll have to start, so that the paper doesn't stick to the tortilla.) Experiment with several different thicknesses until the cooking is more uniform/faster but they're still thick enough to support the food. (You'll also need to modulate the heat.) Once you find the right thickness you can just leave the extra sheets of paper/cardboard in the press for future pressings.

  • Have tried this, no real change, other than the hinge on my press has bent slightly :-/. Will try again with different masa – TFD Nov 23 '10 at 0:45
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    This has now shattered the casting of the press :-( – TFD Oct 23 '13 at 18:06

For masa harina- corn tortillas:

In my experience, the dough should be the consistency of play-do. I often add a touch of oil while kneading the mixture (by hand). Perhaps a half teaspoon of oil. The thickness is more ideal at about a half matchstick thickness. Try using smaller balls of dough to get thinner tortillas. It should be an inch or more away from the edge of the press when you open it. For example, if using a 7 inch diameter press, the tortilla should come out with a 5 inch diameter. Use less dough, press harder.

On the comal, set the heat to nearly it's highest setting and it should take 90 seconds to 2 minutes per side. Immediately place into warming basket or on plate and cover with a towel- they will continue to cook together in there, and create a softer tortilla once you get to the table to eat.

  • I'm guessing the rest / carry-over / steam is a significant part of what was missing. – Joe Oct 24 '13 at 14:13

I use plastic to cover my press, I give it 2-3 good hard presses then open and give everything a half turn then press again seems they come out thinner this way, getting just the right masa texture is important too, and the right comale or pan I might try the above suggestion on two pieces of cardboard covered with plastic next time I make, also I do find wax paper not a good choice it sticks the masa for me my question would be do the more expensive hard wood presses make a thinner product than my metal one?

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