Preparation / Directions:
makes two 8-inch loaves
Make a sponge by dissolving the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl. Mix in the brown sugar. Heat the buttermilk to lukewarm and add 1 cup of it. Stir in 3 cups of the flour, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and leave it in a warm place for 30-40 minutes until it swells and bubbles on the top.
Meanwhile dissolve the salt and melt the butter, cut up in small pieces, in the remaining warm buttermilk, heating it up again if necessary. Let cool to lukewarm, and when the sponge is ready add this to it along with all but 1/2 cup of the remaining flour. Mix well until it becomes hard to stir, then turn out on a floured working surface and knead, adding more flour as necessary until the dough is smooth and resilient - about 8-10 minutes.
Clean out the bowl, oil or butter it, and return the dough, turning to coat with grease. Cover with plastic and leave to rise until double in bulk, an hour or a little more.
Turn the dough out, punch down, then form into two loaves. Place in greased bread pans, cover lightly with a towel, and let rise again until double, about 45 minutes. Bake in a preheated 425 F oven 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 F and continue to bake 30 minutes. Cool on racks.
* You may need to thin the yogurt or sour cream with a few tablespoons of milk or water to make it the consistency of buttermilk.