|water, at room temperature (70° to 80°F/21° to 27°C)|
|whole wheat flour (see Notes)|
In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, place the water, honey, flour, and yeast. Whisk until very smooth to incorporate air, about 3 minutes. The dough starter will be the consistency of a thin batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
If using the Bread Machine Method, scrape the starter into the container of the bread machine. If using the Stand Mixer Method, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Set the starter aside, covered with plastic wrap, while you make the flour mixture.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, vital wheat gluten, and yeast. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the dough starter, forming a blanket of flour, and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let it ferment for at least 1 and up to 4 hours at room temperature. After 1 hour there will be hairline cracks in the flour blanket. On longer standing, the starter will bubble through the flour blanket in several places.
Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and
Spread the walnuts evenly on a baking sheet and
Bread Machine Method Program the machine to mix for 3 minutes and set it to go through the 3 minutes of mixing. Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 20 minutes.
Program the machine to knead for 10 minutes. Add the oil and set the machine to go through the knead cycle, which will include 3 minutes of mixing and 7 minutes of kneading. After the first 3 minutes of mixing, add the salt. After the first 3 minutes of kneading, add the walnuts. The dough will not be elastic at this point and will not form a ball. It should be sticky enough to cling to your fingers. If it is not at all sticky, spray it with a little water and knead it in.
Stand Mixer Method Attach the dough hook. Mix the dough for about 1 minute until the flour is moistened to form a rough dough. Scrape down any bits of dough on the sides of the bowl. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Add the oil and mix the dough on low speed for 7 minutes, adding the salt after the oil is mixed in. Add the walnuts and continue kneading for 3 minutes. The dough will not be elastic at this point and will not form a ball. It should be sticky enough to cling to your fingers. If it is not at all sticky, spray it with a little water and knead that in.
Using a spatula or dough scraper that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray, scrape the dough into a 3 quart/3 liter dough rising container or bowl that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Push down the dough and lightly coat the surface with nonstick cooking spray. (The dough should weigh about
Using a spatula or dough scraper that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray, remove the dough to a floured counter and flour the top. Gently press it down to form a rectangle. It will now be quite elastic. Give it a four-sided stretch and fold (gently stretch out one side at a time and fold it into the center). Round the corners and return it to the container.
Again, lightly coat the surface of the dough with nonstick cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap, and mark where 1½ times should now be after rising. (The dough will fill the container fuller than before because it is puffier with air.) Let it rise until it reaches the mark, 45 minutes to 1 hour (or refrigerate it overnight and remove it to room temperature for 1 hour before proceeding).
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and, with your fingertips, dimple the dough to get rid of air bubbles. Gently flatten the dough into an 8 inch wide rectangle. It will still be slightly sticky, but use only as much flour as absolutely necessary. Shape the dough into a loaf, starting from the top and rolling down to the bottom. With each roll, push the dough away from you with your thumbs to tighten the roll. When you reach the bottom edge of the dough, pinch it firmly against the outside of the dough to make a tight seam. Set the shaped dough in the prepared loaf pan, pushing it down firmly. It will fill the pan to the top. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray and let it rise in a warm place (ideally at 75° to 85°F/24° to 29°C) for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The highest point should be 1½ inches above the top of the pan and when pressed gently with a fingertip, the depression fills in very slowly.
Forty-five minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack at the lowest level and set the baking stone or baking sheet on it. Place a cast iron skillet, lined with aluminum foil to prevent rusting, or a sheet pan on the floor of the oven.
Quickly but gently set the pan on the baking stone or baking sheet and toss a handful (about ½ cup) of ice cubes into the pan on the oven floor. Immediately shut the door. Lower the temperature to 400°F/200°C and
Remove the bread from the oven, unmold it from the pan, and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely, top side up, at least 2 hours.