familiar, and yet different

Nilla wafer bread

Nilla wafer bread

It started with the tiramisu. I ran out of the stash of ladyfingers that my parents had brought from Toronto, and couldn’t find ladyfingers at the grocery store, or anywhere. Sure, there were anise-flavoured cookies and shortbread and biscotti, but no ladyfingers. So in a fit of inspiration desperation, I seized a box of Nilla wafers and used those instead (and for the record, no one seemed to have noticed so there you have it, pseudoladyfingers in a time of need).

I then ended up with a ~1/4 box of Nilla wafers sitting forlornly in my cupboard and decided to bake some sort of bread with them. The result is a soft-textured loaf that smells a bit like… well… vanilla cookies?

Nilla Bread

Built upon King Arthur Flour’s Classic Sandwich Bread

Makes one sandwich loaf.


– 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
– 1/2 cup Nilla wafers (15ish wafers), lightly toasted and ground into crumbs
– 1 cup milk, lukewarm
– 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
– 1 tbsp sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 2 tsp instant yeast, or 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

– 1/2 tsp vital wheat gluten*

*Note: I was concerned that the Nilla wafers wouldn’t contribute any gluten compared to flour and added a bit of gluten to try and compensate for this.


In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm milk along with the sugar, and allow to proof at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Arrange the Nilla wafers in a single layer on a baking sheet and lightly toast them, just until you start to smell the cookies (I did this hoping to bring out the vanilla cookie aroma in them). Crush up the cookies into crumbs; I did this by putting them in a sandwich bag and crushed them with a rolling pin.

Add the flour, Nilla wafer crumbs, vital wheat gluten, oil and salt to the bowl, and stir until the dough begins to come together and leaves the sides of the bowl. Adjust the consistency as need: if the dough feels too dry, add a little bit of water, stir and check again; if the dough feels too wet, add a little bit of flour, stir and check again.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead until it becomes smooth and supple, around 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and allow the dough to rise till approximately doubled, about 60 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it to fit your pan. The KAF recipe calls for an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan but I only have 9 x 5-inch pans and they work for me. Cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for about 30 to 60 minutes, or until it’s crowned about 1 inch above the edge of the 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch pan (it will probably just reach the top of a 9 x 5-inch pan).

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 30-35 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove the loaf from the oven and let it cool before slicing and serving.

* * *

I’m sending this to Susan at Wild Yeast for YeastSpotting.

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10 Responses to “familiar, and yet different”

  1. Susan/Wild Yeast Says:

    I think desperation so often leads to inspiration. I have to admit when I saw the title of the bread I had visions of a bread made with only Nilla wafers, like that mock apple pie made from Ritz crackers. This is better.

  2. msmeanie Says:

    Wow, I would never have thought of putting crushed cookies in a bread. That actually sounds really good. Thanks for the idea! Great site!

  3. YeastSpotting 5.8.09 | Wild Yeast Says:

    […] Nilla Bread […]

  4. Mary Says:

    What a nice surprise. In addtion to points for baking you deserve more for creativity.

  5. toxobread Says:

    Susan: haha I don’t think I like Nilla wafers enough to make an entire loaf out of them -_-

    msmeanie: you know, I was thinking about this, and crushed Oreos might be pretty cool in a loaf of bread, and the dark chocolate crumbs would give it a speckled look too!

    Mary: thanks! I’m a scientist by day and continue to tinker with formulae by night 😉

  6. elra Says:

    Amazing looking bread. I am not sure what Nila wafers is, but sounds like I have to explore more…

    • toxobread Says:

      Elra: Nilla wafers are vanilla flavoured cookies. You’re going to be better off making your own cookies ha ha… but they did work as a substitute for ladyfingers when I was in a fix a little while back.

  7. Jude Says:

    I’m lame because I have no idea what Nilla wafers are. Can’t help but admire that perfectly shaped loaf, though.

  8. Macie Says:

    Wow, you are so creative! Who would’ve thought of nilla wafer bread?! Sounds so good!

  9. toxobread Says:

    Jude: not lame at all! I think you’re better off with exploring ramps in all incarnations and baking breads from Suas’ ABAP than knowing what Nilla wafers are. Really and truly.

    Macie: didn’t want to just eat them, and didn’t want to throw them away, so when all you think about is bread in your spare time… 😉

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