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1.28.2011

Tortilla Variations

Making 100% whole wheat tortillas.
I have made tortillas before, but it has never gone well. Yes, they're theoretically easier to make than bread. But there are nuances that have to be understood and little rhythms that you have to get used to, because there is more actual hands-on work than bread baking. Thankfully I don't give up easily.

One of the challenges in making good tortillas- rolling the dough thin enough. It's gets too tough and springy and resists rolling. Well, the last time I made tortillas I made a breakthrough. I let the dough rest. It was a very "duh" moment, as I should have known from making bread that dough needs to rest to be workable. It made the dough much easier to roll out.

Of course, I still didn't get them thin enough, I didn't have my pan hot enough, and I cooked them too long. The result- tortillas nowhere near the lovely, soft ones I've had from other homemade sources. Or even good bagged tortillas. Boo.

I blame the recipes. I've never found a "good" tortilla recipe. You know, one that lays out all the information you need to know as if you have NO IDEA how to make tortillas. They either don't tell you to let the dough rest or they don't tell you about what temp the pan should be, both of which I think are vitally important to success. Because that's kinda what I needed.

This recipe, from Kitchen Stewardship, comes pretty close. Besides meeting all of the requirements I think a good tortilla recipe should have, I love the way it starts with a basic (and unhealthy) version and shows how you could easily evolve it into a much healthier version.

I am currently soaking a triple batch of the soaked version (the last one listed). I've been soaking grains on and off for the past year and I highly recommend it if you're looking to make the next step towards improving your health. If you've never heard of soaking grains before, to make it very simple it breaks down phytates, which prevent your body from fully utilizing the nutrients in whole grains (and which white flour advocates used to use as their reason white flour is "healthier"). They can also cause uncomfortable gas and bloating, especially in people who are unaccustomed to eating whole grains. For more information on soaking grains, check out The Nourishing Kitchen.

-I made the soaked tortillas the other day, and they turned out AWESOME.  After the 24 hour soak, I rolled the dough into 2 oz. balls using my kitchen scale, then let them rest about a 1/2 hour more before starting to roll- make sure you use a LOT of flour while rolling out so they don't stick to anything.  By the end, my kitchen was a mess of flour and my whole house smelled of burnt flour (from the extra on the griddle), but the 2.5 dozen tortillas I ended up with was totally worth it!


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