I used to take measuring cups for granted. I presumed that they all measured the same amounts. Last summer I found that this isn't necessarily so.
Our family rented a house on a lake. The second day there I made tortillas for chicken enchiladas. My recipe always worked great, whether I halved or doubled it; whether I used white or whole wheat flour. But on this day, when I was making enough for 16 people, the dough turned out very dry. I managed to renovate it, and the tortillas, though not my best, were still good. But I couldn't figure out what happened.
Later in the week I noticed a set of dry measuring cups different from the ones I had used for the tortillas. I noticed that the 1-cup I used to measure the flour for the tortillas appeared to be bigger than the other one. So I took a liquid measuring cup, measured 1 cup of water in it, and poured it into the first cup. There was unfilled space. Quite a bit of it. The water fit exactly into the second cup. I even poured the water back into the liquid measuring cup to make sure the amount was constant. It turned out that the first "cup" held about another 1/4 cup! With 5 cups of flour called for in the tortillas, that meant I had added about 1-1/4 cups too much! No wonder the dough was so dry!
|Whole Wheat Tortillas|
Wikipedia: "The cup currently used in the United States for nutrition labeling is defined in United States law as 240 mL." King Arthur Flour: "1 cup = 227 (or 230) ml/g." This discrepancy of standards, about 1 tablespoon difference, surprised me. At 235 ml/g, most of my measuring cups fall in the middle of this range and are consistent with each other. Interestingly, both Pyrex measuring cups not only fall below this range but are inconsistent with each other.
5 C flour (originally called for white, but I use whole wheat)
2 1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 C very hot water
5 Tbsp. canola oil (originally called for shortening; oil works really well)
Mix together dry ingredients. Pour oil into the hot water. Then pour the liquids into the dry ingredients. Stir together with a spoon, and then squish together with hands and knead slightly until you have a cohesive ball. You may need to add a bit more water or flour. Make about 20 golf ball-sized balls of dough. Cover them with a towel or wax paper so they don't dry out. Let rest for a few minutes. Using a little flour, roll each ball very thin. Cook in a dry skillet on high heat, turning as soon as it starts to bubble; cook for a few more seconds. Do not over-cook. Place cooked tortillas inside a folded tea towel.
Making 20 tortillas all at once can be tedious. So, if I just need a few, I decrease the recipe amounts as follows:
1/3 Recipe: (yields 6-7 tortillas)
1 2/3 C flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 C very hot water
1 2/3 Tbsp. canola oil
1/5 Recipe: (yields 4 tortillas)
1 C flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. (generous) baking powder
1/3 C (scant) very hot water
1 Tbsp. canola oil