2. Line a heavy cookie sheet or rimmed sheet pan with a length of ovenproof parchment paper.
3. For the dough, sift the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and whisk to combine. Drop in the chunks of butter and, using a pastry blender or two round-bladed table knives, cut the fat into the flour mixture until reduced to flakes and pea-size bits.
4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla extract.
5. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the flour mixture and stir to form a dough. The dough will be moist and come together in large patches. Collect, gather, and form the dough into a mass that adheres to itself with your hands. Note that the dough should be mixed only to shape and form, as actual kneading results in a dense-textured crumb.
6. Transfer the dough to a work surface sprinkled with the wheat bran. Gently smooth and roll the dough into a well-domed sphere measuring 5 to 5-1/2 inches in diameter, allowing it to take up a light coating of the bran; the bran will adhere to the dough randomly. Place the dough ball in the center of the baking pan. With a small sharp knife, cut a 4 by 4-inch cross on top of the bread, no more than 1/4 inch deep. A deeper, longer cross will allow the loaf to bake out of shape — if this happens, reduce the baking time by about 4 minutes, as the dough will widen a little more during early baking — the bread, however, will still be delicious.
7. Bake the bread in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until set. The baked bread will sound hollow when gently tapped on the bottom with the long handle of a wooden spoon. Since the unbaked dough is somewhat dark to begin with, you will see ruddier patches on all four quadrants created by the cross-slashing. Let the bread stand on the baking pan for 2 minutes, then remove it to a cooling rack, using two wide offset metal spatulas. Serve barely warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.
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From Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes by Lisa Yockelson (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011). Copyright © 2011 by Lisa Yockelson. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the publisher.