Jim's Buttermilk Bread

1 tb Active dry yeast

1/2 c Warm water

1/4 To 1/3 cup honey

2 c Buttermilk - room

-temperature 6 To 6 1/2 cups unbleached

-flour 2 ts Salt

4 tb Olive oil

Makes two 8-inch loaves Make a sponge by dissolving the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl. Mix in the honey. Add 1 cup of buttermilk. Stir in 3 cups of the flour, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and leave it in a warm place for 15-20 minutes until it swells and bubbles on the top. Meanwhile dissolve the salt and add the olive oil, in the remaining buttermilk. 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, about 15 minutes or so.

Turn the dough out, punch down, then form into two loaves. Place in greased bread pans, cover lightly with plastic, and let rise again, about 15 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. From the collection of Jim Vorheis

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