Whenever you’re making dough from scratch, there are a couple of very important tricks to remember. The first? Keep it cold. Cold hands, cold butter, cold liquid … you get the picture. The second? Rest the dough. You do this to relax the gluten (the protein in flour which gives dough its elasticity) and to let the yeast do it’s job – that is, letting it be the driving force in fermentation, allowing the dough to double in size. And the last important trick? To lightly grease and cover the dough while it’s resting – this way you prevent the dough from drying out.
First you need to activate the yeast. Mix the sugar, yeast and lukewarm water together, then sprinkle a tablespoon of flour on top (this prevents the yeast mixture from getting a dry crust) and leave in a warm spot for 10 minutes or until frothy. Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the salt and, using your finger-tips, rub in the butter.
Next, beat the eggs lightly with a fork and add to the yeast mixture. Make a hollow in the flour, pour in the yeast-and-egg mixture and knead it well into a soft, pliable dough. Brush the dough with sunflower oil, place in big bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and let it rise in a warm spot for about 40 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
Knead the dough one more time (this step is called knocking it down) and then you’re ready to bake bread.