One of the goals I have when preparing meals for my family is to use fresh, whole ingredients. I like to know what I am eating. I don't know when it became the norm for store-bought products to have long lists of ingredients that are unpronounceable, but we are trying to avoid those things. Sometimes this is an easy switch, like finding a different brand, but other times I have found that my goals make that certain product undesirable and therefore don't find their way into my grocery cart. This is usually when I decide to try my hand at making it myself. Most of the time it's cheaper anyway, so I usually tell myself the only thing I've lost is a little time and effort if I don't end up liking it. Truth be told, I have yet to find something that has not only been completely worth my effort, but also way better tasting than the store bought junk we were eating before. You win some, and you win some more! Today I am going to share with you one of my favorite recipes from my King Arthur Flour Cookbook: Whole Grain Baking. On a side note, I highly recommend this cookbook if you love baking! We are going to be fashioning ourselves some easy, albeit slightly wonky looking, tortillas. Warning: There are lots of pictures! I always find when I am baking bread, or crackers, or tortillas, knowing what textures and consistencies the dough is supposed to be makes it a whole lot easier the first time around.
The ingredients are SO SIMPLE. White whole wheat flour, salt, oil, and water. Compare that to any tortilla in the store. I challenge you! The cookbook recommends using white whole wheat flour as the authors found that it produces the best, hearty, and complex flavor. Feel free to try with other types of flours, just be cautious when adding the water. Different flours will absorb more or less.
You first mix 2 cups or 8 ounces of flour and a half teaspoon of salt together. I usually weigh my flour because that is much more accurate, but if you don't have a scale feel free to measure with a measuring cup. Be sure to spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level with a knife. Don't just scoop with your measuring cup. That will add as much as I think 20% more flour. Did I make you quiver in your boots yet? Measure the right way people! :) Then add 3 tablespoons of oil. I usually use olive oil.
Mix the oil into the flour mixture. Give this a stir with a spoon at first, then get your fingers dirty and mix it with your hands. You will end up getting a crumbly mixture.
Next you add about 2/3 cup of warm water. I don't measure the temperature or anything, I just make sure I am using nice and warm water from the tap. I pour the water in slowly, little bits at a time, while stirring. Make sure not to add too much water. The amount of water will vary between flours, between days, between freshness, so make sure to start little. Then stir it up with a spoon or your hands. This will only take a minute or two until you get kind of a shaggy looking lump. I usually knead it once or twice to get it all into one chunk. At this point, cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit for 20 minutes. This is crucial to allow the flour to absorb up all the water. See my tiny helper hand there? I couldn't crop those adorable fingers out!
Now we have this guy. See how he is kind of crumbly, and not smooth?
We knead him until he is nice and smooth. You may need to put a little flour on your countertop so it doesn't stick, but most of the time I can do this without it. This doesn't take long, just a few quick kneads, and he is whipped right into shape. Isn't he a beauty? I always find baking fascinating. You go from the above picture to this by mashing a piece of dough with your hands? Who knew to do this?
Now you cut your beauteous creation. I typically cut mine in half the long (hotdog) way. Then I cut each half into about 5 little triangles. I found that cutting triangles allowed me to have better consistency of the size of my tortillas instead of having some little ones and some big ones. I usually get around 10 depending on how large I want my tortillas. Shape each triangle into a ball. Then cover those babies up and let them take a nap for about 20 minutes.
Now you are ready to shape and roll your tortillas. Keep these covered while you are working so they don't dry out. Flour your surface about moderately well. I like enough flour that I can roll easily but not so much that it doesn't stick. The stickiness allows it to stick to the countertop in some spots making it easier to roll super thin. Flatten your ball into a disk. I usually flour both sides at the start. I use my rolling pin by starting in the middle of the disk and rolling outward. Do this until you get a round oval ish (or wonky shape in about 100% of my tortillas) shape. I usually go in about six directions around the disk. You may need to flip it once or twice. Roll it so thin that it lifts up at the edges but doesn't split (see the last picture.)
Heat an ungreased griddle to medium high heat. Toss on your tortilla. Cook for a couple minutes. You can see that it sort of gets bubbly, almost like a pancake.
Flip and cook a couple more minutes. They should be browned on both sides.
This part can be a little time consuming. It obviously goes quite a bit faster if you can do two pans at once, which I recommend. I roll the next tortilla while one is cooking. After they are cooked place them inside a kitchen towel to keep warm for dinner. This will keep it from crisping up too much.
Most of the time, I make these ahead of time. This makes dinner time a tad less crazy and disastrous. To do that cook them up and allow them to cool completely in a kitchen towel. I usually forget about them for an hour or two. Then place in a plastic bag or airtight container in the fridge until you want to use them. I make up enough for a whole week. When you want to serve, place a pile between two damp paper towels and microwave for about 30 seconds and serve.
Warning: If you make these, you may never buy regular tortillas again. They are so good! They are fresh, chewy, and have the perfect crunch. We enjoy them in quesadillas for a quick lunch for Penny and me, and any form of taco for dinner. They are easy to whip up for a quick quesadilla dinner out of random fridge ingredients (you know, the day before you go grocery shopping.)
Hope you are feeling a little kitchen inspired by this. Have any recipes to share with me? Do you also make things "by hand" to avoid some of those unpronounceable ingredients? Are you hooked on something you've made from scratch and have never bought it again? Please share!