Whole Wheat Vanilla Bread

Vegan Vanilla Bread

One morning in Bombay, Desi, on an errand to pick up some bread for breakfast, came home with two little balls of fur, one yellow and the other red. You can expect to find just about anything for sale on the streets of Bombay and that morning Desi had come across a man selling tiny little baby chickens for two rupees each. Not thinking about the fact that we lived in an apartment — not exactly the right atmosphere to raise a chicken or two– he had picked them up “because they looked so cute.”

He named them Chikni and Chikna (which translates, in Hindi slang, to Beautiful and Handsome). For weeks they ran about the tiny apartment, dispensing chalky white poop everywhere and shocking neighbors who couldn’t believe their eyes. Chikna, the red furball, didn’t live long. He got very sick one day and despite our best efforts to nurse him back he passed away. Chikni was more resilient. Over the next few weeks she grew much bigger — and smarter. She knew exactly where she could find food whenever she wanted it– under the sink, after the maid had done the dishes. So she would run to the kitchen each time the faucet turned on. She would come to us when called, and respond, in some ways, not unlike a cat or a dog. She was a sweetheart.

I was thinking about Chikni recently after reading day after day about the uproar in Europe (and some paranoia in the United States) about horse meat hidden inside cow meat. Initially, all that outrage seemed rather dumb. If you’re okay with scarfing down one kind of dead animal, why is the idea of eating another so disgusting?

But what really got me was the concern about the deplorable conditions these horses are subjected to as they are shipped and butchered for their flesh. Horrible as that is, here’s my question to these meat-eating hypocrites: what do you think goes on at factory farms in Europe and the United States and indeed anywhere in the world, where cows and pigs and chicken are “raised” for food?

Every animal that ends up on dinner plates across Europe and the United States (or anywhere else in the world) is treated horrifically and endures a hellish life from start to end. If you really are worried about horse meat because those horses were treated badly, you need to take a hard look at the well-documented cruelty that goes on in slaughterhouses that raise the animals you think are perfectly okay to consume.

There is also another kind of hypocrisy at play here: out of sight, out of mind.

We don’t worry too much about “farm animals” like cows and pigs because the only time we see them up close are when they are neatly carved up on supermarket shelves. They are not within our day-to-day cognition. On the other hand, we consider dogs and horses our friends. We share our homes and lives with them, we relate to them and we see how intelligent they are, how beautiful, how well they reciprocate our feelings, and how easily they communicate. Eating a dog, to most of us, would be almost as bad as cannibalism. But even after we learn about the horror of producing beef or pork or chicken, so well-documented in recent years, it doesn’t turn us into vegetarians. Because we attach no value to the life of a cow or a pig. We don’t stop to consider that an animal raised for food has a will to live that’s just as strong as yours and mine.

Having lived with Chikni I know that chickens are smart and adorable. In fact, animal behavior experts who have studied chickens found that they can recognize human faces. Cows have complex emotional lives and have best friends who they grieve for when separated. Pigs are smart– smarter than dogs by some accounts– and are capable of feeling optimistic or pessimistic based on how they are treated.

From where I sit, the life of a cow and a pig and a chicken is really no less valuable than the life of a horse or a dog. No animal should have to die to feed us. So instead of getting a bee in the bonnet about some horse meat getting into your cow meat, why not just say no to all meat– and to all animal cruelty? You’ll be doing yourself a favor.


Vanilla Bread

Our very animal-free recipe for today is this fragrant, sumptuous Whole Wheat Vanilla Bread that is just perfect to eat with just a dab of vegan butter or with some peanut butter. It’s a wholesome, kid-friendly snack that’ll please any adult too.

I used a vanilla bean in this recipe, but feel free to use pure vanilla extract out of a bottle. The fragrance that will fill your home as this bread bakes up is to die for. Contrary to what the name might indicate, this is not a cakey bread, but rather more like a regular whole wheat bread with just a hint of sweetness from the vanilla.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, all!

Vanilla Bread
Whole Wheat Vanilla Bread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Bread
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean or 3 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup soy or other nondairy milk
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt to taste
  1. Mix the yeast with the water and sugar and wait a few minutes until it froths, indicating the yeast is alive.
  2. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape the seeds out with a small knife, and add to the yeast. If using vanilla extract, add it now.
  3. Add the soymilk, the salt, all-purpose flour, and 1 cup of the whole-wheat flour. Knead and add the last cup of whole wheat flour slowly, until you have a resilient but smooth dough, about five to eight minutes.
  4. Place the ball of dough in a bowl coated lightly with oil. Turn over once to coat the top with oil, cover with a kitchen towel, and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 90 minutes.
  5. Punch the dough down and shape it into an oval. Place in an oiled loaf pan and cover loosely. Let the dough rise until it domes around the top of the loaf pan.
  6. Bake in a 350-degree preheated oven for 50 minutes. Remove to a rack and let it cool for 10 minutes. Then unmold from the pan and continue cooling on the rack.
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    I love baking bread. It has a calming effect on my nerves. Sunday morning summer baking is what I wait for every summer. I am so glad I found your blog, I hopped over from Cook@Heart. I am not Vegan but love healthy recipes that I can cook in my kitchen.
    Love Ash.

  2. says

    Oh gosh Vaishali, so true. When everyone got crazy about the horse meat story, thats exactly what I was thinking. How is it different from any other animal meat you are eating???
    Anyways, great recipe. Was planning to make some cookies for my neighbor’s kids, but I think I’ll make this instead!
    Now lets hope I pass the “prove you’re not a robot test” below. I always fail at first go….. :(

    • says

      :) Yes, that robot test– I fail at first go too. Sorry to put you through it, but you won’t believe the amount of spam that comes through if I don’t have it on.

    • says

      Hi Susan, I use around a teaspoon, but you could get by with less or more. And yes, 3 tbsp of vanilla extract is crucial to give this bread the right aroma and flavor.

  3. says

    i hear you about the uproar about the horse meat.. it sounds pretty ridiculous. it did get a couple of threads going with both sides talking about how an animal is an animal is an animal. i hope some of that got through to some people.

    i love this gorgeous loaf! and the name chikni:)

  4. says

    Same thoughts here – funny how people who rant about one meat in the guise of another meat, how does it matter?
    Baking bread is so close to Bliss, would love to try my hand at this recipe.
    I am not a robot, do i have to prove it? 😉
    Is ‘comment moderation’ good to keep out spam, would like your thoughts on this since I am using that feature to block out spam in my blog. Thanks. Cheers.

  5. says

    Thanks for the great article. I wish there was some way to get such articles more exposure. I started my vegetarian journey over 50 years ago when my father left London UK to become a pig farmer. Yes our pigs were not factory farmed but at age 11 I didn’t realise how they became ‘meat’. Until seeing the young pigs going off to ‘market’. Ten years ago I became vegan – and cannot imagine ever eating animals again. Pig, chicken, horse… dog or cat – they are all sentient beings and deserve better than a traumatic and terror filled life and death.

  6. Anonymous says

    Hi Vaishali,

    this bread looks amazing! I’m going to try this recipe very soon! Question – what oven temperature did you bake with?


  7. says

    Hi Vaishali, question for you: do you know if a bread machine/maker would be alright to use here? I’m new to bread baking and rather intimidated, but really love the idea of this recipe. Thanks!

    • says

      Activista, I’ve never used a bread machine, so I cannot answer that question. I would assume that if any other oven-baked bread recipe can be adapted to a bread machine, this one can too. Any other readers have tips they can share?

  8. Prema says

    Dear Vaishali,
    I enjoy browsing your blog. I have tried ur french toast and waffles and they turned out great.
    However my baking has been a total failure.
    I tried this bread recipe but the crust hardened and the loaf was not baked inside.
    I used Ashirwad atta and maida. Is it different from all purpose flour.
    I had to leave out a couple of tbsp of wheat flour and still use more liquid than specified.
    Though the dough raised, it wouldn’t fit into my pan and I had to bake it in 2 batches. This could be a reason for the bad result.
    While kneading the dough only, I felt that it was too much and I couldn’t handle it and make a smooth dough.
    Can you help?
    The main doubt is :are maida and apf the same.
    And is it ok to leave out a little of the 1cuo of wheat flour that we are supposed to add in proportion?

    • says

      Hi Prema, thanks for your kind words, and so glad you’ve tried the recipe.
      I do think that the maida might be causing the problem. Keep in mind that it is different from all-purpose flour which has a higher gluten content. I would advise trying to find all purpose flour and using that instead of the maida. And yes, you can leave out some of the flour if your dough gets too hard– if you’re cooking in a drier climate than mine, you’d probably need less flour. Hope that’s of some help!

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