Saturday, 23 November 2013

Gluten free corn tortillas (wheat free, dairy free, egg free)

gluten free corn tortillas
Sturdy, homemade corn tortillas, gluten free and gorgeous
My blog was born in a pokey little kitchen in a suburb of Paris. And when I say pokey I mean stupidly small. There was about a metre and a half of work surface, some seriously dodgy electrics above the sink and a smell of drains when it rained.

Looking back, I'm amazed that I managed to bake so prolifically in such a teeny space with an oven that burnt cakes to a crisp in no time. That oven is the reason that many of my earlier recipes give quite vague cooking times and include the disclaimer 'but do keep an eye on the cake, all ovens are different!'

Anyway, although the kitchen was small, in Paris my blog was at its most fertile. I lived and breathed allergy recipes, always trying to figure out which classic recipe I could bastardise and make allergen free. There were highs and some spectacular lows.

The time I tried corn tortillas was one of my more farcical attempts at making a stand for allergy baking.

Corn tortillas require corn flour, right? As in 'cornflour', you know, that stuff that we Brits use to thicken gravy? Easy! I can get it here in Paris, wow, I'm going to have this recipe cracked in no time.

The warning bells did chime a bit when I weighed out the cornflour and added water. This was not really looking like a 'dough' that I could roll into neat balls.  

In fact, it was looking

But I soldiered on adding more and more cornflour as I sought to make a 'dough'. I think I presumed that some magic alchemy would happen when I placed a spoonful of the goo onto a hot crêpe pan.

tortillas with gluten free masa harina
'Fill me with vegetable chilli!' 

My presumption was wrong. 

The cornflour mass oozed across the pan, bubbled and...that was it.

I was furious. WHAT was I doing wrong? HOW could I have created such a mess and was I actually mentally subnormal?

(I take my baking failures very personally. Self-loathing, tears and chocolate consumption always follow a baking débâcle. I'm telling you that just in case you'd mistaken me for an 'I've got it all together' type person.) 

Anyhoo, turns out that I was using comPLETELY the wrong flour.

Masa Harina is what you need peeps if you want to make authentic corn tortillas. Although I would love to recommend P.A.N masa harina because the retro packaging is so gorgeous, I gave the importers a call and they can't guarantee that it's gluten free.

Lovin' the packaging, alas not certified gluten free 
Bob, of Bob's Red Mill, on the other hand, happily certifies his corn flour (note the gap between the two words) as gluten free. Yes it's a bit pricey, but definitely worth it.

Packaging - meh - but certified gluten, wheat and dairy free
Whatever the size of your kitchen, forge on allergy bakers, learn from my hideous mistakes and feast on these badass tortillas!

Arriba Arriba! (Felt duty bound to include some Mexican.)

Gluten free corn tortillas (makes approximately 10)

Although 'normal' corn tortilla recipes don't call for the addition of xanthan gum, I've tried without and let's just say that's an hour of my life that I'll never see again. I HATE it when recipes don't do what they say they'll do.  

2 cups / 325g Bob's Red Mill Masa Harina flour, plus extra for rolling out and fine-tuning the 'wetness' of the dough
1 tsp salt
2½ cups / approx 520 ml water 
a 15cm bowl/cutter/plate to cut out the tortillas (I'll explain in a bit)
baking parchment for rolling
2 crepe/pancake pans

To make the dough:
Place the flour, xanthan gum and salt into a large bowl and gradually add the water until you have a firm, slightly sticky dough. Ideally, you'd leave the mix for 20 mins as it seems to 'firm up' and become less sticky, but if time is of the essence, you just use more flour as you roll out the dough. Flour your work surface with Masa Harina (or other gluten free flour) and break off a handful of dough. Squash it down and sprinkle with flour, then place a sheet of baking parchment over the top and roll out gently with a rolling pin until about 3mm thick. You might find that this takes a few goes if the dough is very sticky and by the end you may not even need the baking parchment to roll out.

Place the bowl/cutter/plate upside down over your circle of dough and use a knife to cut around the edges to form a circle. Roll the circle of dough back over the rolling pin and set aside, or if you're cooking one by one, see instructions below. Continue rolling out circles of dough until it is all used up. If you find the dough is impossibly sticky then please add more flour, it can't do any harm. 

To cook:
Lightly oil the crepe/pancake pans by dipping a square of kitchen towel in oil and smearing it around the pan. Heat the pan until it is hot, but not until the oil is smoking. Place the circle of dough onto the pan and brush the surface lightly with oil as the underside cooks. The surface of the dough will start to form bubbles (see picture below). Check that the underside is golden (flip up the edge with a knife and take a peek) then use a spatula to turn the tortilla. When the tortilla is golden on both sides, slide onto a plate and fill it with goodness, why not my vegetable chilli?

how to make gluten free corn tortillas
They sort of look like bubonic plague bumps, or is that just my weird imagination?

gluten free corn tortillas
From the humble, healthy corn comes a tortilla filled with fattening yumptiousness. Amen

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