Whole Wheat Tortillas

And so the trend continues. I promise I make other things besides Mexican fare, but you know, if you’ve got a good thing going on, “don’t muck it up” (many thanks to POTUS for this useful one-liner). We recently had a taco night party in our apartment building, and I volunteered to bring the tortillas. Now, you actually can find tortillas in the GZ, but at roughly $5 a pack, I was a little hesitant to buy a party size batch of what really is just flour, oil and water. I had previously made tortillas, and Ben thought they turned out really well. So with my lone food critic giving two thumbs up, I decided to hand-make these Mexican gems and hope that my friends would feel the same. Fortunately they were a hit!

For this recipe, you can modify the flour type to your taste…all white, 2 1/2 cups white and 1 cup wheat, etc. But after trying a couple of different varieties, I actually enjoy the all whole-wheat flour version the best. It is important to note that I use white-whole wheat flour which still provides the whole-wheat nutrition but with a less nutty flavor. This makes a pretty large batch, but they also freeze beautifully so there’s no need to feel like you have to eat only tortillas for the next two days!

Makes approximately 18 tortillas

Ease of Preparation: Medium (only because it’s a bit time consuming)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached white whole-wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
  • 1 tsp vital wheat gluten (this gives whole wheat doughs more elasticity. If you don’t regularly bake w/ vital wheat gluten then skip this step…no need to buy an entire bag for 1 tsp! Your tortillas should still come out tasty.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 7 T canola or other oil with a high heat tolerance (I use grape seed oil)
  • 1 cup very hot water, plus more as needed to reach doughy consistency

Whisk together all dry ingredients. Mix oil and water together then add to the dry ingredients. Stir until the water and oil are fully incorporated (add a tad more water at this point if necessary) and all of the flour adheres into dough. Knead by hand or machine for no more than 3 minutes. The dough will not be very sticky at all. Place dough into a bowl, cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

Cut dough into 1.5 ounce portions (if you do not have a food scale, just cut dough evenly into small portions. You should end up with 18-19 pieces of dough). Shape each portion into a ball. Roll each ball into a circle, roughly 7 inches in diameter, or as thin as you can get them without breaking the dough (note, you will probably not have perfect circles. If you don’t, just go with it!). Cook on medium-high in a non-stick or cast iron skillet for about 20 -30 seconds (I use a 14 inch cast iron skillet). There is no need to oil the pan. Flip with a spatula, then cook for an additional 20 seconds, pressing any bubbles down with the spatula. Place tortillas on a paper towel-lined plate. The paper towel will help absorb any extra moisture. The tortillas will not stick together when stacked, so just pile them on top of each other as you cook them.

In case you’re interested, I use the following 1-man assembly line when making tortillas:

– Portion and shape all the dough
– Roll out 1 tortilla; place in heated skillet; begin rolling 2nd tortilla; flip 1st tortilla; continue rolling 2nd tortilla; place 1st tortilla on plate; place 2nd tortilla in skillet
-Repeat

It’s important to note that while your dough balls are waiting to be rolled, some may develop a crusty outside. Don’t worry about this; the dough will become soft again once you begin rolling it.

To freeze, simply place completely cooled tortillas, along with one or two paper towels on the “bookends” of the tortilla stack, in a gallon size freezer bag. The tortillas will keep for at least a couple of months, and they will not stick together in the freezer so you can take out one at a time as needed.

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