25 g/1 oz fresh yeast or 40 ml/2.5 tbsp
5 ml/1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup warm milk
675 g/1.5 lb/6 cups strong plain (bread)
5 ml/1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
150 ml/0.25 pt warm water
1 egg yolk
Blend the yeast with the sugar with a
little of the warm milk and leave in a warm place for 20 minutes until
frothy. Mix the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Add the
egg, the yeast mixture, the remaining warm milk and enough of the warm
water to mix to a soft dough. Knead until soft and no longer sticky.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover with oiled clingfilm (plastic wrap) and
leave in a warm place for about 1 hour until doubled in size.
Knead the dough lightly, then divide into quarters. Roll three pieces
into thin strips about 38 cm/15 in long. Moisten one end of each strip
and press them together, then plait the strips together, moisten and
fasten the ends. Place on a greased baking (cookie) sheet. Divide the
remaining piece of dough into three, roll out into 38 cm/15 in strips
and plait together in the same way to make a thinner plait. Beat the
egg yolk with 15 ml/1 tbsp of water and brush over the large plait.
Gently press the smaller plait on top and brush with the egg glaze.
Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 40 minutes.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/ 400°F/gas mark 6 for 45 minutes
until golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped on the base.