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Flour Tortillas

2 cups all-purpose flour unbleached
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 to 3/4 cup hot water very hot

Mix the flour with the salt and baking powder. Using your hands,
mix in the shortening until the mixture becomes a coarse, even
meal. Mix in 2/3 cup of the water, adding it all at once, and knead
for 2 minutes, or until the dough has the consistency of a stiff
bread dough. If dry and crumbly, add extra water; if too moist,
add a few tablespoons of additional flour. Cover the dough and
allow to rest for 20 minutes. Heat a skillet, saute pan or griddle
over medium-high heat until hot enough that a drop of water
immediately sizzles and evaporates. You will be rolling and then
cooking each tortilla, rather than rolling them all and then cooking
them. Pinch of a piece of dough the size of a golf ball, and dust
your hands and the dough ball with flour. Place the ball on a
lightly floured surface and flatten the ball with your hands into
a circle 1/2 inch thick. Then, using a rolling pin, roll it twice
in the same direction. Keep rolling, turning 90* each time, until
you have formed a circle 1/8 inch thick and about 8 to 9 inches in
diameter. Immediately place it in the hot skillet and cook it for
30 to 45 seconds, or until bubbles begin to form on the top. If
the tortilla puffs up into a pillow, push it down with a spatula.
Turn and cook 20 seconds, remove with a spatula, and keep warm by
placing in a tea towel and covering it with the towel. Roll and
cook remaining tortilla dough in the same way. While one tortilla
is cooking you have time to roll the next one.


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