This flour tortilla recipe requires only five ingredients—including water—and bypasses the plastic bags that virtually every store-bought tortilla is packaged in. Almost daily, a story about the horrors of plastic appears in news: we inhale 5 grams of microplastics every week (not to be confused with the plastic we ingest), the recycling process spews microplastics into the environment and those recycled materials contaminate food more than virgin plastic does (which also contaminates food).
But there is good news. The UN’s Environment Programme says the Global Plastic Treaty currently under negotiation could cut plastic production by 80 percent using existing technology. We have the means to reduce plastic pollution but have lacked the political will to do so—until perhaps now. (Go here to urge the US government to take a stronger stance on this treaty.)
While I wait for world governments to regulate this fossil fuel based—and thus subsidized—environmental disaster, I’ll continue to make these tortillas and other staples from scratch to reduce the amount of plastic I inhale and ingest, to keep plastic out of the waste stream, to save money and to enjoy better-tasting food.
By no means must you grind your own flour to reduce plastic. I am programmed to DIY what I can and although I don’t want to own a lot of stuff, I have not one but two grains mills so I grind whole wheat flour from wheat berries. Freshly ground flour makes everything you bake taste amazing. (Go here for more on my grain mills.)
Hand-milled whole wheat flour does tend to be a little heavy though, so I make this tortilla dough with two-thirds whole wheat flour and one-third all-purpose flour (which I buy) for a softer texture.
Tortilla cooking tips
- Wait for the skillet to heat before cooking the first tortilla.
- Err on the side of undercooking. As with cookies, these are done when they look a little bit undercooked. Overcooking will render hard tortillas.
- As you cook the tortillas, stack them in a towel-lined bowl or basket and cover them. This will keep them soft and warm.
Wheat tortilla serving, storing and reheating
I store any leftover tortillas in the cloth towel I wrapped them in after cooking or in a glass container instead of a plastic bag because, well, see the opening paragraph to this post. To soften leftover tortillas, reheat them in a hot skillet for 20 to 30 seconds or in a steamer basket set over a pot of boiling water.
And now for your next recipe…
Easily make baked tortilla chips with any leftover tortillas. Brush both sides of a whole tortilla. With kitchen scissors, cut each tortilla into 8 triangles. Arrange the triangles on a baking sheet (or two if you’ve made lots), sprinkle with salt and bake at 350℉ for 10 minutes or until crispy and slightly browned.
Whole Wheat Tortillas
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (see Note)
- ¾ teaspoon coarse salt
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 cup water
- Whisk together the flours and salt in a large bowl. Pour in the water and olive oil and stir to combine to render a shaggy, wet dough.
- Turn the very soft dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes or until smooth. If the dough sticks during kneading, sprinkle the work surface with additional flour.
- Form the dough into a log approximately 12 inches long. With a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the log into 12 even pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Cover with a clean cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Flatten a ball with your hands. Place it on a floured work surface and dust it with more flour. With a rolling pin, roll it out into a circle 7 to 8 inches in diameter. Add small amounts of flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking as you roll it out.
- Heat a dry, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is very hot, place a tortilla in it. After 30 to 60 seconds, when air bubbles have formed on the surface, flip the tortilla and cook it for another 30 seconds. Transfer to a towel-lined bowl or basket and fold the towel over the top to keep the tortilla warm and soft.
- Continue to cook the tortillas, transferring them to the bowl or basket. When necessary, carefully wipe out excess flour from the pan to prevent it from smoking. Serve the softest tortillas, on the bottom of the pile, first.
- Reheat and soften any leftover tortillas by warming them for 20 to 30 seconds each in a hot skillet. Or place them in a steamer basket over a pot of simmering water.
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- Taste Canada silver for single-subject cookbooks
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