I think that we can all agree that nothing beats a stack of warm, freshly made tortillas, but on a clean eat diet, the bleached white flour that traditional flour tortillas are made with is a no-no, and worse yet, most whole wheat tortillas tend to be stiff, slightly bitter and will often break when you try to bend or fold them (bad news for burrito-lovers like myself!).
But fear not because I have the answer: my “new and improved” recipe for 100% whole wheat flour tortillas that features improved chew and better flexibility! Made clean using clean ingredients, these tortillas are fluffy, chewy, and best of all they stand the test of time if they need to be reheated or used the next day!
To make them we’ll be using whole wheat pastry flour, light olive oil, water, vital wheat gluten, salt, baking soda, and garlic powder (optional but it gives great flavor).
The use of the whole wheat pastry flour is key to making this recipe a success. Milled from a low-protein soft spring wheat, whole wheat pastry flour produces an end product that is much lighter in texture with a significantly milder flavored than traditional whole wheat flour. In short, it is ideal for creating the coveted texture of these tortillas!
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Be sure to evenly disperse everything, particularly the vital wheat gluten. We want it throughout the flour as this added gluten is essentially the secret to what gives these tortillas their amazingly traditional flex and texture.
Next, add the olive oil and using either a fork or your hand, work it into the flour…
…Until you end up with a coarse, pea-like texture. Think of this step almost as if you’re making a short crust pastry!
Next we’re going to add in half the water and work it into a dough. Adding half the water allows the whole wheat flour to absorb just enough before we add more so that we can better control the dough’s consistency like this.
Finally, add in the rest of the water and mix it in until all is absorbed and your dough comes together.
Work the dough until it “cleans” the bowl before turning it out onto a clean and flat surface. We’re going to knead the dough for five to six minutes to activate that gluten and give it a nice and smooth consistency.
In the first few minutes of kneading you might be tempted to add in more flour or water but don’t. Keep working the dough and you’ll see that as you do, its consistency will change from a rough almost crumbly but sticky mass to one that is smooth and doesn’t stick to your hands (like in the image above, it’s so smooth it catches the light and has a gloss to it!). The key is to have the patience and to knead it enough.
Typically once I’ve added in all the water there is no need for any additional flour or liquid to get the dough to come together. (Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, the sprinkle of flour in the above picture isn’t even necessary, it was done purely for the picture’s aesthetics! 😋).
Once your dough has formed a smooth ball, divide it into twelve equal portions and flatten them out to the desired thickness and size. For this you can use either a tortilla press (don’t forget to use two pieces of parchment to make your life so much easier!) or a rolling pin. I personally use both. The press is a great way to get a nicely rounded tortilla in seconds and the rolling pin helps get the round to it’s final thickness.
Setting a saute pan on medium-high heat, allow it to heat up until it’s nice and hot but not smoking. Turn the heat to med and add in your first round. The pan does not need to be oiled or greased and doing so might actually cause the tortilla to stick!
Once the underside is cooked with brown spots, flip it and cook the other side before removing it from the pan. Now, this is important: Once your tortilla is cooked through and you remove it from your pan, set it aside on a plate that has either a clean kitchen towel or a few paper towels. You want to make sure that both the top and bottom of the tortilla is covered. Set a bowl that is large enough over it so that the heat from the freshly made tortilla stays under your bowl and with your tortilla, this creates a steam that keeps the tortillas warm and soft while the cloth or paper towel wicks away excess moisture so it’s not soggy. Keep adding your cooked tortillas to your stack and cover them with the towel and bowl as you go. Trust me it makes your tortillas heavenly soft and keeps them hot.
The end result is a stack of warm, soft, fluffy whole wheat tortillas, ready to be used in things like quesadillas or tacos 🌮 and burritos🌯 filled with whatever fillings you enjoy, (Steak or Chicken fajitas anyone?? Or maybe even a Chipotle Chicken Burrito? 🤤) How do you enjoy your tortillas? Leave me a comment down below!
George is actually quite partial to enjoying a chicken tender wrap (pictured above) that features lettuce, freshly shredded cheese, homemade mayonnaise and chicken tenders (made using either my Parmesan Herbed Crusted Chicken recipe or my Popcorn Chicken recipe) encased in one of our warm, freshly made tortillas. Seriously, you can’t tell me that doesn’t look and sound absolutely delicious! And just look at the flexibility of the tortilla! Perfection!
Well guys, that’s a wrap (HA! Tortilla puns!!) for this post. From our kitchen to yours, we bid you clean and happy eats! 😊
Soft and Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Tortillas
- In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, vital wheat gluten, baking powder and garlic powder (if using). Mix thoroughly to ensure all ingredients are fully distributed.
- Add the oil and work until the flour resembles coarse sand with a few larger almost pea-sized chunks.
- Add the hot water 1/3 cup at a time. Mixing until the flour has absorbed all the water before adding more. Mix well until a soft dough that cleans the sides of the bowl is formed.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean surface (no flour is needed at this point) and knead for 5 minutes so that the gluten can develop. Note that the dough will be slightly sticky and will seem to be flaking or peeling off in layers, do not add more flour, keep working the dough and it will come together into a smooth and soft ball.
- Once the dough is smooth and elastic, divide it into 12 equal portions and roll each portion into a ball.
- Press, stretch, or roll out each ball to a round of your desired size (between 8-10 inches in diameter is ideal). Note that no extra flour is needed at this point. The dough is very pliable and forgiving.
- Heat a 12" skillet pan until it is hot (but not smoking) and lower the heat to med-low. Add one round of the rolled out dough. Cook for 45-60 seconds or until brown spots appear on the underside before flipping and cooking for another 45-60 seconds until fully cooked through.*Note that no oil or fat is required to be added to the skillet.
- Remove the tortilla from a pan and set aside on a plate lined with enough paper towels or a dish cloth large enough to wrap both the top and bottom of your stack. Continue until all your tortillas are cooked and added to your stack.
- Serve and use immediately and wrap any leftovers in paper towels and store in airtight Ziploc bags in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If freezing, place sheets of parchment paper or foil between each tortilla and store in the freezer for up to a month. To reheat, defrost (if frozen) and wrap the tortillas in damp kitchen paper towels and microwave for a few seconds at a time until warm and flexible.
- When rolling out the dough keep the round sandwiched between two pieces of parchment paper for an easy means of flipping and transferring the round.
- Stacking the cooked tortillas and keeping them wrapped in a cloth kitchen towel is a great way to keep them both soft and warm. As a bonus, cover the stack with a bowl large enough to fit over them to allow the heat of the cooked tortillas to keep them warm and soft.