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Tortillas de harina (flour tortillas) from New World Sourdough.
New World Sourdough by Bryan Ford
Our cookbook of the week is New World Sourdough by Bryan Ford. Tomorrow, we’ll feature an interview with the author.
“A tortilla, especially for a Honduran, is a staple of your existence and the backbone of your life,” says Bryan Ford. “Breakfast, lunch, dinner — they are the vessel that holds the beans. Baleadas (flour tortillas filled with red beans, crema and queso fresco hondureno) is so traditional. It’s pretty much the national food of Honduras.”
Ford learned how to make tortillas de harina (flour tortillas) at his mother’s side. Instead of all white flour, which his mom favours, he uses a mix of whole-wheat and bread flour. And while she turns to baking soda and eggs to help them puff up, his version incorporates a levain (a preferment made with sourdough starter, flour and water).
“(Sourdough) was not part of my upbringing,” says Ford, adding that using baking soda in tortillas is the norm. “Now there are a lot more young Latino or Latina bakers around the country making sourdough tortillas. So it’s becoming a little thing in the second-generation Hispanic people.”
One element he didn’t stray from in his naturally leavened rendition, however, was the use of coconut milk. “That’s the way my mom makes it — with coconut milk,” he adds. “It’s a very special recipe that she showed me how to make, and I will probably make tortillas for the rest of my life.”
TORTILLAS DE HARINA
15 g mature sourdough starter
50 g bread flour
50 g whole-wheat flour
100 g warm water
Final Dough Mix:
125 g warm coconut milk
100 g levain
400 g all-purpose flour
100 g warm water
25 g coconut oil
25 g vegetable oil, plus more for kneading and oiling
5 g kosher salt
To build the levain: In a tall jar or medium bowl, mix the mature starter, flours, and warm water until incorporated. Cover with a lid or clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place for 12 to 14 hours. You want to catch the levain right as it begins to fall and lose potency.
To make the final dough mix:
1. In a large bowl, combine the warm coconut milk and levain to dissolve.
2. Add the flour, warm water, coconut oil, vegetable oil and salt and, using your hands, mix the dough (see note) until incorporated.
3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it with the palm of your hand. If the dough is a bit sticky, don’t worry; it will come together through the kneading process. Don’t add more flour as this will make the tortillas too dry. Add small amounts of vegetable oil while kneading to help smooth out the dough and create a nice elastic surface.
4. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes after kneading.
To shape and proof the dough:
Because tortillas are not exactly leavened, they don’t require much in terms of fermentation or proofing.
1. Shape the dough into a log and cut it into 6 even sections.
2. Using the palm of your hand, but with your fingers around the edges of each piece, shape the dough into round balls using the balling up technique (see note).
3. Oil a cutting board and place the dough balls on it. Cover the dough and let proof for 10 minutes.
4. Once you are ready to shape your tortillas, heat a large skillet over medium heat.
5. Oil a large plate and use the plate to flatten the tortillas. All you have to do is put a bit of oil on the plate and press with the tips of your fingers to push the edge of the dough to the edge of the plate.
To cook the tortillas:
1. When your skillet is hot and you see a bit of smoke rising, lower the temperature a bit, to about medium-low. Cook each tortilla for 4 minutes per side. Make sure your pan is up to temperature so when the tortilla hits the pan you begin to see small bubbles within the first 45 seconds.
2. Transfer the cooked tortillas to a paper towel to rest. Fill them with anything and enjoy!
To store: Let the tortillas cool completely before putting them into a zip-top or paper bag, and refrigerate. When ready to eat, warm them up on the stove in a skillet.
Yield: 6 tortillas
Notes: To mix the dough, combine the ingredients in a medium bowl. Using your hands, squeeze everything together and then turn the dough out onto a work surface. Knead the dough using the palm of your hand to push it forward and then your fingers to pull it back toward your hand. Repeat this process until you have a smooth surface. Don’t be afraid to rip this dough while you knead with your palm and then bring it back together again.
To shape the dough, when you divide it, on a lightly floured surface (note here that too much flour may make it impossible to create tension in the ball of dough), gently pat the dough pieces down. Fold the corners into the middle and flip the dough over. Now, use the palm of your hand and your fingers to roll the ball back and forth until you have a small ball of dough and a smooth surface. Do not let the surface of the dough tear, which means you have shaped it too tightly. If you don’t want to waste the torn dough, let rest for a while and try to shape it again.
Excerpted with permission from New World Sourdough: Artisan Techniques for Creative Homemade Fermented Breads; with Recipes for Pan de Coco, Bagels, Beignets and More by Bryan Ford. Text © 2020 Bryan Ford. Published in 2020 by Quarry Books, an imprint of The Quarto Group.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020