Soy-free bread is problematical. Most of the breads on the bread aisle have soy oil. Most tortillas are out, too, unless you can find an honest-to-god fat-free one, and they are scarce. As a result, our fajitas are usually served in whole-wheat pita. Pita's usually okay.
The good news is, supermarkets are starting to sell more upscale bread in their bakery departments and they are often soy-free. My local “GIANT” sells a brand it buys frozen and bakes in the bakery. The multigrain has soy (check every label, every time) but the Italian, sourdough, country rye, semolina sesame, and olive/rosemary are all fine. Our local Whole Foods also carries several kinds of soy free bread. The bad news is, these upscale loaves are expensive. You also have to slice them yourself at home, because the slicers at the store might be contaminated from previous products.
English muffins continue to be a problem. None sold in the supermarket are soy-free. Whole Foods used to sell a Whole Foods brand that was okay, but they changed the recipe (check every label, every time). Trader Joe’s brand (“British Muffins”) is fine--for now--and they have whole-wheat.
Hotdog and hamburger rolls are impossible. We often buy “French rolls” at Safeway and use them for hamburgers but they’re not too substantial. I have not found any hotdog rolls I can use. I finally bought at hotdog roll pan from the King Arthur Flour catalogue and make them at home, when I can’t stand putting a hotdog on regular bread anymore.
Which brings me one of the best inventions of the 20th century: the bread machine. I am on my third machine right now. We only use it to make dough, then shape the dough and bake it in the oven. We use a potato bread recipe, like the one that came with the King Arthur hotdog roll pan, for hotdog and hamburger buns. (If you want your potato bread to be yellow like the supermarket loaves, add 1/16th tsp of turmeric.) For hamburger buns, just divide one pound of dough into sixths, or 1½ pounds into eighths, shape into balls, and squish flat on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Let rise until doubled, and bake at 375 for about 15 minutes.
Because we only make dough, we don’t care what brand of machine we use, or how many bells and whistles it has. This latest machine cost around $40 at WalMart, and it works just fine, although the pan is not as heavy as the ones in our earlier, more expensive machines. It even has a “beep” for when to put in raisins, which the other two didn’t.
Bread machine books abound, and recipes are all over the internet, but I have found that I can make almost any bread recipe in the bread machine if I scale it right. A pound of dough uses 2 to 2 ¼ cups of flour, and cooks in an 8”x4” pan. A pound-and-a-half loaf takes 3-3 1/2 cups of flour, and uses a 9”x5” pan. My defunct Panasonic machine’s manual recommended 7/8 cup liquid for 2¼ cups flour and that works for most recipes, although if you add whole-wheat flour, you need a full cup. I am still working out the proportions for larger loaves.
We have several favorite bread machine books. Donna Rathmell German published at least 6 Bread Machine Books through Nitty Gritty Press. (Full disclosure—one of my recipes is in Bread Machine 6.) We also like Bread Machine Magic by Linda Rehberg & Lois Conway.
Because it is basil season, I am including my recipe for Pesto Bread. My brother tasted this at our house, and went out and bought a bread machine the next week.
2 ¼ cups bread flour (see note)
¼ cup pesto, home-made or commercial
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt (less if the pesto contains salt)
1 cup water
1 1/4 tsp yeast
Put the ingredients in the machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Process on dough mode. When the dough is ready, roll out about ½” thick, roll up like a jellyroll, and put in a greased 8”x4” bread pan. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.
Note: You can substitute 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 tbsp gluten powder for one of the cups of bread flour. Any whole-wheat flour works, but we favor King Arthur.