Honey Whole-Wheat Bread

This is a sweet bread that, while substantial, is light and cake-like with a crust that cracks a bit if executed according to the recipe.

1¼ cups milk
1 egg
½ stick butter or margarine
dash salt
¼ cup honey
1 tbsp Red Star® yeast (slightly less is better)
1½ cups whole-wheat flour
2½ cups high-gluten flour

1. Warm milk, butter and honey together in a glass container using the microwave on high for up to two minutes.

2. Add to bread machine or mixing bowl the yeast, egg, salt, the whole-wheat flour and two cups of the white flour. Start the bread machine on dough- or manual (no-bake) cycle.

3. Pour the heated mixture slowly into the bowl as it is working on the rest of the ingredients. Caution: if the egg hasn't been mixed into the whole, the hot liquid may reach it and cook bits of it. Scrap the honey that sticks in the container with ic cbber spatula and then use the spatula to tease the batter into dough as the mixer does its work. Once it is clearly become dough instead of merely separate powder and liquid ingredients, add the remaining flour ( cup) and leave the mixer to do its kneading and the first rise—about one and a half hours.

4. Pinch the dough back down into the mixing bowl and remove it. Dump out the dough onto a floured surface and cut in half. Set one half aside.

5. Bring the corners of the dough into center and crush with heel of hand repeatedly gradually kneading out all the air and creating a ball that is slightly concave in the center and perfectly smooth everywhere else. Take care never to break or pull the dough apart or to push a hole through the ball.

6. Wipe or roll the dough through some of the flour to coat its round top and place the ball—concave side down—on a wooden peel sprinkled with corn meal. (The corn meal keeps the dough from sticking to the peel.) Set the peel aside to be joined by another with the second ball of dough. Cris-cross the dough balls at this point with a sharp knife to a depth of up to one-quarter inch. (This makes it so that the ball will crack predictably when rising or baking and will not split badly.) Allow dough to rise into very big balls covered only with a clean terry-cloth hand towel to avoid air movement in a safe place free from draft and vibration.

7. About fifteen minutes before baking, preheat a thick baking stone and oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Carefully rotate each ball on its peel a quarter turn to ensure that it has not stuck to the peel. Exercise great care not to deflate the balls.

8. Nudge first one ball, then the other, off the peels onto the baking stone as far from the stone's edge as possible. If you use the same technique as for handling pizza, the balls will surely deflate. Spray water in a fine mist from a dedicated spray bottle into the oven before closing the door.

9. Stand watch over the oven, spraying water through both sides of the door ajar every few minutes until the balls are just past golden brown or as desired—about twenty minutes. Remove balls from the stone using a peel, place on a wooden cutting board and cover with the terry cloth to prevent rapid cooling and drying out.