Hydraulic presses are metal-forming machines that utilize hydraulic equivalents of levers to generate immense force, with the ability to apply and c……
Can You Make a Tortilla With a Hydraulic Press?
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[Article Summary]:Hydraulic presses are tools designed to deform metal into desired forms by applying full force at each stroke, so as to achieve their purpose of def……
Hydraulic presses are tools designed to deform metal into desired forms by applying full force at each stroke, so as to achieve their purpose of deforming.
Your tortilla maker, cast iron skillet or comal and two thin plastic pieces such as produce bags are essential tools. For optimal results use presses made from durable materials that won't collapse under pressure.
How to Make Tortilla Dough
Tortillas are made with dough that consists of masa harina or flour (or a combination of both), salt, fat (oil, lard or shortening), and water. Hydration levels must be just right: too wet will cause sticking when pressing; too dry makes working difficult. A properly hydrated tortilla dough will feel soft and pliable like fresh play-dough.
Start off by adding less hot water than is called for in your recipe and use your hands to knead until it resembles play-dough; add additional amounts as necessary; using a kitchen scale helps ensure that there's sufficient liquid.
Once the dough is made, it should be divided into 12 equal portions for large tortillas or 24 for smaller ones, then each should be individually measured to an accurate weight measurement of 50 grams. Weigh each ball evenly to ensure even cooking; coat it lightly with oil to protect it as it rests and to help prevent drying out during storage.
Resting allows the dough to absorb liquid and rehydrate gluten proteins, making it easier to roll into thin rounds. While you could skip resting and still end up with an excellent tortilla, giving the dough time to relax is well worth your while and will yield greater results.
Once your dough is prepared, place it between two squares of wax paper in a tortilla press. Plastic will prevent sticking as you press. The top plate of the press should be heavy enough to flatten out the dough without being unwieldy for lifting and placing across your hand.
Next, begin adding different colored dough in any design you please to make a visually striking and delectable tortilla. When finished, lift your press carefully to release its final tortilla shape.
Preparing the Dough
To create the dough, combine flour and salt. If using either lard or vegetable oil (if applicable), work the fat into the flour with your hands or pastry blender until all traces of fat have disappeared - this prevents gluten formation while making rolling easier. Add in less water than required at first, stirring briskly as you pour in small increments until a shaggy mass forms; adjust as necessary so it holds together before kneading on lightly floured surfaces until elastic and smooth.
Now the dough is ready to be transformed into tortillas! A comal is traditionally used, but any skillet will do. Lightly dust the counter and rolling pin with flour so as to prevent sticking, then roll your first ball of dough into a thin circle before continuing rolling until they form an ultrathin disk that you can see through.
Once your tortillas have reached their desired sizes, heat a comal or skillet on medium-high. Line a plate with a clean dish towel or napkin before putting your tortillas onto them for baking.
Temperature matters when it comes to making tortillas: too high will lead to burnt edges while too low can produce soggy tortillas.
Tortillas are typically made with either wheat or maize flour, although Mexican people also employ other forms of flour and legumes such as mung beans to produce tortillas. What sets these flatbreads apart is their signature ingredient - juice from cacti - giving the tortilla its distinctive taste that even those from outside Mexico will appreciate.
To produce authentic and delicious tortillas, it is best to steam them before they are fried. This ensures they remain soft rather than hard and brittle and helps retain their moisture content. If you can't locate a cactus juicer, try making tortillas using young white corn juice which has similar flavors as fresh cacti. Alternatively, baking tortillas may provide a healthier alternative.
Pressing the Dough
Commercial tortilla manufacturers utilize a hot-press process to mix, shape and bake flour tortillas. A smooth dough is created using wheat flour, water, shortening, salt baking powder or yeast as well as various emulsifiers like gums or sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL). Preservatives may also be added in order to extend mold-free shelf life of their finished products.
After mixing together the dry ingredients, shortening is cut in and gradually added back in step-by-step until a soft and silky dough can be formed that is suitable for kneading. A water absorption level of around 750 Farinograph Units should be targeted, any less might result in too stiff dough that's difficult to press while too much may result in loose tortillas that become too slack and soft when pressurizing them.
Once the dough is sufficiently soft, it is rolled into circles or rectangles of various sizes depending on its desired final dimensions and thickness of tortillas. Once formed, it is sent directly into proofers where it may relax for short periods; otherwise it becomes harder and less elastic when compressed leading to inferior quality tortillas.
To ensure that tortillas can accommodate toppings and food items without leaking through, a special additive called gum is used to keep their structure intact and prevent leakage. Gum acts as a natural emulsifier while simultaneously helping retain moisture by slowing evaporation rates - keeping tortillas soft and moist longer!
Many commercial tortilla producers add flavorings such as freeze-dried black or pinto beans and tomatoes to their formulations, to set their product apart from others on the market and enhance the flavor profile of their tortillas. Tortillas can then be folded, wrapped, stuffed or served either alone or as an ingredient in another dish.
Unmolding the Tortillas
At commercial producers, most flour tortillas are flattened using a hydraulic press with heated plates that may warp or deflect over time, limiting consistent thickness across all tortillas produced. To mitigate this issue, manufacturers shim their machines so that the platens remain at their correct height.
As this practice increases friction between each tortilla, unmolding is difficult. To address this issue, manufacturers have several solutions at their disposal to unmold tortillas without tearing them: heat and steam, non-stick skillet, oil or butter coating and dusting the tortillas with cornstarch are just a few ways they could try unmolding without tearing.
Unmolding tortillas requires several steps. One option for unmolding is using parchment paper between each one to form a barrier that keeps them from sticking together while stored. When ready for use, simply peel away and stack with another sheet of parchment between them. An alternative way of keeping tortillas from sticking together while stored is applying a light dusting of cornstarch; this will absorb excess moisture and prevent sticking together of all your stacks of tortillas.
When making tortillas, the first and foremost step is preparing the dough. A well-blended dough free from lumps is ideal. If the mixture becomes sticky, add more flour until it no longer sticks together. Kneading also enhances texture and pliability.
Once a dough is formed, it should be left to rest or proof for approximately 15 minutes before pressing or rolling out. This allows it to relax and expand more easily during rolling; plus it helps it maintain its shape better during pressing.
Once the dough has rested, it should be rolled into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface and placed onto a hot griddle or skillet to cook for approximately 30 seconds before gently being separated with either metal spatulas or fingers and transferred to a basket lined with toweling for transfer to a basket lined with towels.