When I began making bread weekly in December 2011, the unvegan version of this bread was the first recipe I tried. After experimenting with serveral other recipes, this was by far my favorite and easily became my go-to weekly recipe. When I went vegan, I knew I had to veganize this one! I am so pleased with how my vegan version turned out and hope you will be too.
2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 ½ Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon vegan shortening
½ cup non-dairy milk (I have used almond milk, coconut milk and soy milk. Each has worked great. If you want a faint nutty flavor try almond milk!)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm water and active dry yeast. Stir until the yeast is disolved. Next, add the sugar, shortening and milk to the warm water/yeast mixture and stir (Note: the shortening will be lumpy in the mixture and that is okay!).
Add 2 cups all-purpose flour to the mixture along with the salt and stir, using your hands if necessary. Add the remaining cup of flour and continue to stir (I prefer to use my hands at this point).
Knead the dough until it is elastic and moist, but not overly so. Depending on the weather/surrounding environment, you may need to add more flour. Trust your gut.
Pre-heat the oven to 375F (191C).
Form the dough into a ball or disk (I usually do something in-between...kind of a flat ball?) and place in a well oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it rise in a warm place (I just place the bowl on top of my oven as it pre-heats) and let the dough rise for 1 hour.
Punch the dough down--it will have risen quite a bit! Remove it from the bowl and gently knead the dough for about 30 seconds. Form it into a loaf shape and place it in a well oiled standard bread pan. Cover with a cloth and let the dough rise for 45 minutes.
Remove the cloth from the dough and with a sharp knife, make three vertical slashes in the top of the dough (one left, one center, and one right).
Place it in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The bread should be golden brown on top and hollow when tapped. This bread is amazing right out of the oven so don't be afraid to dig in! (Though it will be easier to cut slices after the bread has cooled a bit.) This bread is at its best if eaten within the first 3 to 4 days of baking, but it will stay good for a little over one week if kept in a tightly sealed container or bag.