In a small mixing bowl, add the yeast to the warm water and sprinkle with 1 pinch of sugar. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes, until foamy.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining sugar, flour, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine.
Using your fingers, a fork, or a pastry cutter, mix the butter pieces into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Add the yeast mixture, the warm milk, and 1/2 cup of the olive oil to the flour mixture. Continue mixing until all the ingredients come together to form a soft dough. If the mixture is too wet, add 1/4 cup more flour until the dough comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 to 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. You may need to continue adding a light dusting of flour to your work surface to keep the dough from sticking. (This dough is very soft.)
Grease a second large mixing bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil and place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil.
Cover the bowl with a clean, damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Punch the dough down in the center with your fist and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
Divide the dough into 8 equal portions, about 3 1/2 ounces each.
Using your clean hands, press each portion of dough to flatten, then gently roll into a log shape, about 5 inches long.
Place each log on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper that has been lightly sprinkled with flour.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and cream. Using a pastry brush, gently paint the eggwash onto the top of each bun.
Cover the baking sheet with a clean, damp kitchen towel or lightly greased plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise until the rolls double in size, about 1 hour.
Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat the oven to 375?F.
Remove the kitchen towel or plastic wrap and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the dough comes out clean. Use oven mitts or pot holders to remove the baking sheet from the oven.
Using a spatula, move the rolls to a wire rack to cool completely.
To serve, slice the buns horizontally with a serrated knife about three-fourths of the way through.
Yield: 8 buns