makes one loaf
1 oz (25 g) fresh yeast or 1 tbsp dried yeast
10 fl oz (275 g) warm milk
4 cups (1 lb) 450 g strong plain flour (bread flour)
2 tsp salt
1/3 cup (75 g) butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp kirsch (optional)
1 egg, beaten, for glaze
1. Dissolve the yeast in a little of the milk. Leave this to stand 5 minutes for fresh yeast and 15 for dried yeast.
2. Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture and the remaining milk. Add the butter and one beaten egg and any kirsch.
3. Mix everything to a dough and knead it on a floured work surface.
4. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it and leave it for 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
5. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) gas mark 6.
6. Punch down the dough and knead it again.
7. Divide it into two pieces and roll each piece into a sausage-shape, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.
8. Lay one piece on the work surface in a straight line vertically. Lay the other piece across it horizontally, to make a cross with equal-length arms.
9. Take the top part of the first piece and fold it down towards you and slightly to the right (as if at four o'clock).
10. Fold the right-hand side of the horizontal piece left over the piece you have just folded down (as if at five o'clock).
11. Take the left-hand side of the horizontal piece and fold it across over two strands of dough (as if at four-thirty).
12. Take the piece now on the far right and fold it to the left, over one strand.
13. Then take the piece on the far left and fold it to the right over two strands. Continue folding, first over one strand, to the left, and then over two, to the right, until your strands run out. Then turn the whole loaf over and seal the ends together.
14. Lay the loaf on a floured baking sheet and leave it to prove for 20 minutes.
15. Glaze it with the other beaten egg. Bake the loaf for 35 minutes, or until it is golden brown.
16. Cool it on a wire rack.
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