4 1/2 hours then one day keeping
Makes 1 ring-loaf 30 cm /12 in across
550 g / 1 1/2 lb strong white flour
10 ml / 2 tsp salt
1.5 ml / 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
5 ml / 1 tsp clear honey or sugar
30 ml /2 tbs tepid or hand-hot water
25 g / 1 oz fresh east or 10 g / 1/3 oz dried yeast
2 medium-sized egg yolk, at room temperature
150 ml / 5 fl oz plain yogurt, at room temperature
50 g / 2 oz butter, melted and cooled to Luke-warm
plus extra melted butter for brushing
For the Glaze
1 medium-sized egg, lightly beaten sesame seeds or poppy
1- Reserve 50 g /2 oz of the flour and mix the remainder with the salt and soda, sifting the mixture into a large bowl. Reserve 30 ml /2 tbs of the mixture in cup.
2- Dissolve the honey or sugar in the hand-hot water, Cream the fresh yeast and stir this into the water until incorporated. If using dried yeast, sprinkle it into the sweetened tepid water. Leave to stand until it becomes frothy about 10 minutes. There is no need to stir it.
3- Combine the eggs with the egg yolk and beat lightly with a fork. Cream the yogurt with a spoon and pour it and the eggs into the flour, stirring briskly. Then add the yeast and mix to a soft sticky dough. knead it with your hands for about 5 minutes, pushing it out to stretch it and adding the flour reserved in the cup. When the dough is firm and elastic, form it into a ball.
4- Butter the inside of a bowl generously then turn the dough over in the bowl to coat it completely with butter ; this prevents a skin forming on its outside. Loosely cover the bowl with a cloth or cling film. If fresh yeast has been used, allow the dough to rise in a not too warm place (about 25C /77f). Leave the dough to treble in size, about 2 hours.
5- Turn the dough onto a working surface greased with a little of the lukewarm butter. Knead the dough, sprinkling it with butter while it is stretched. Continue kneading until all the butter is incorporated. Then knead for another minute or tow. Return to the bowl, cover and allow it to rise as before until the dough is light and spongy and has trebled in size, about 45 minutes.
6- Turn the dough out again and knead it with the reserved 50 g /2 oz of flour - it should be rather stiff at this stage. Shape it into a ball.
7- With two fingers, press through the center of the ball. Enlarge the cavity with gentle circular movements to from a small ring of dough. Transfer the ring to a greased round baking dish about 30 cm /12 in across. Enlarge the circle by patting and molding it with both hands, forming a smooth even ring with an outside diameter of 25 cm /10 in. Brush the surface with lukewarm melted butter, cover loosely and leave it in a slightly warmer place for 30 minutes, or until it has more than doubled in size. Heat the oven to 200C / 400F /gas 6.
8- Brush the dough ring gently with the egg glaze and, if wished, sprinkle it with seeds. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown, then invert the bread ring on a cloth placed over a soft pillow, (to prevent damage to the top). Turn it over on to a rack to cool. Keep 1 day before cutting.