Preparation: 35 minutes, plus rising Cooking: 35-40 minutes
Makes 1 loaf
15g fresh yeast
1 teaspoon caster sugar
450g strong white flour
1 medium egg, beaten milk to glaze
1 Melt the butter in the milk in a small pan. Cool until tepid. Cream the yeast and sugar together in a small bowl.
2 Sift the flour into a large bowl with 1 teaspoon salt and make a well in the centre. Mix together the butter, milk, egg and yeast and pour into the well. Quickly mix together to form a soft but not too sticky dough.
3 Turn on to a lightly floured worktop and knead for 10-15 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put into a clean, very lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave in a warm place for about 1 hour until doubled in size.
4 Heat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan oven) gas mark 6. Divide the dough into three pieces. Knead, then roll each piece into a sausage shape about 10cm long.
5 Put two pieces parallel to each other and the third across, threading it under the left hand piece and over the right-hand. Starting from the middle, plait one end, then turn over and plait the other end. Tuck in the ends and put on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and leave to rise for 15 minutes.
6 Brush with milk and bake for 25 minutes until the loaf is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.
If you can’t get hold of fresh yeast, use 2 teaspoons fast-action dried yeast and stir into the flour before adding liquid.