Cheese Makers Forum FAQ Equipment part 1 Equipment part 2 History

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thinking About Gorditas

Since I did a practice run-through of a pork shoulder a few days ago in preparation for my B-Day, I still have a good amount of said shoulder in the fridge. So what goes well with piquant, salty, herby piggie? Tortillas of course!

The only problem is I want a tortilla that isn't a traditional tortialla--I want something that is say closer to Naan, but still has Mexican influences. Why? I dunno, that's just how I roll. So without even consulting the intertubes, I started a mind game: How can you make a semi fluffy tortilla for this beast, but make sure it has enough structural integrity to handle being wrapped around stuff *and* carried around while being eaten.

The first thing that struck me is fats in the dough are out. They very quickly make the baked/fried object structurally unstable for walking around and chomping. The second thing was there had to be gluten, so a 50/50 mix at least of Masa Harina to White Flour was probably inevitable. The third was that fluffy demands air, so either a chemical reaction (baking powder/soda), or natural reaction (yeast) must be involved. The fourth was that since they are to be flat, they should probably be made in a skillet or griddle.

So, my first attempt was as follows:

  • 1 cup Masa Harina
  • 1 cup White Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon regular salt

I then took a ball of this dough, pressed it out flat but not *too* thin on some wax paper, and fried it on medium in a skillet with very little oil. The result? Not good.

It had the gumminess of the flour and the density of the masa. The flavor wasn't actually that bad, but no way was this all it could be. So, I tossed this dough (what, flour is cheap!) and started again. By increasing the baking powder I should be able to offset both of problems, and since the flavor isn't the issue really, it should be good.

Phase two was:

  • 1 cup Masa Harina
  • 1 cup White Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon regular salt

Again, spread the dough on some wax paper, fry on skillet at same temp, flip, pull off and test.

On it's own it was much better, but still lacking. Filled with the shredded Prague Ham though it was FRIGGANING AWESOME!!!. Even though it wasn't all that fluffy, the textural differences and flavor differences were great. So, I was left with just a couple problems.

The first problem is that young doughs based on flour look, well, kinda anemic. They tend to go weirdly translucent when you cook them as flat bread, and they don't have all the subtly of flavor that can be pulled out of wheat. The second problem is I know I wasn't pulling out all the subtle flavors (nuttiness, sourness, creaminess) that you can bring out of a great dough.

So, here is my plant to counteract that:

Make the dough exactly like the second step, but add 1/4 teaspoon of yeast plus warm the water a tad, and let it rise over night. This should allow two things to happen, the conversion of complex starches to simpler ones to aid the color of the finished product, and add a small amount of dissolved CO2 into the dough so it rises a little more irregularly. I'll let you know in a few days how this works out, but I think a hybrid baking powder/yeast dough might really be the ticket.


Refrigerating the dough from the second recipe for a day made for a much improved version. Not perfect, but much better. It is so funny, but I really think that so much of the 'peasant food' we love so much gets so much character simply because it has to wait around. Bread? Yeah, better with old dough. Tortillas? Better with old dough. Most meat? Better slow cooked. Fresh veg and seafood are an exception, but brussel sprouts really are better after a frost or frozen.

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