In a small bowl stir yeast into 1/2 cup lukewarm water until dissolved. Let sit until small bubbles form around edges. In a small saucepan scald milk and remove from heat. Add butter and salt, stirring until butter melts. In standing mixer fitted with a dough hook or in a large bowl with an electric mixer (preferably heavy-duty), beat eggs with sugar until pale and foaming. Beat in milk mixture, then yeast mixture, until blended. Begin to add flour to egg mixture, beating constantly, until dough begins to come together. If dough is too heavy for your mixer, switch to a wooden spoon. When dough forms a ball, turn out on a lightly-floured surface and knead, adding flour as needed, to prevent dough from sticking. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Return dough to cleaned and lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease a baking sheet. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly, squeezing out any air bubbles. Shape into 12 small rounds or 2 large rounds and transfer to baking sheet. Brush with egg wash. Bake until firm and golden brown, 30 minutes for small, 45 to 55 minutes for large. Remove loaves to a baking rack and cool completely before serving.
Yield: 12 Small Loaves