1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using a handheld whisk, whisk together the water and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the milk until steam rises from the surface and bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 1 minute. Add the butter, sugar and salt and whisk until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Let cool to lukewarm.
3. Fit the mixer with the flat beater. Add 3/4 cup of the flour to the yeast mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the milk mixture and beat until just combined. Add 1 1/4 cup of the flour and beat until the mixture is sticky and just combined, about 1 minute. Switch to the dough hook, increase the speed to medium-low and beat until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and starts to form a ball, 2 to 3 minutes. Add additional flour only if the dough is sticky. Continue to beat until the dough is smooth and elastic, 6 to 7 minutes.
4. Transfer the dough to a work surface, shape into a ball and place in lightly oiled large bowl. Turn the dough to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes.
5. Lightly oil an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4 inch loaf pan. Turn the dough out into a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into an 8 inch square. Fold the dough in thirds like a letter, over-lapping the sides in the middle. Starting from a narrow end, roll up the dough into a loaf. Place the loaf, seam side down, in the prepared pan and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush the top of the loaf with the melted butter or, for a shiny surface, brush with the egg wash. Bake until the loaf is golden and sounds hollow when tapped, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, carefully remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely before serving. Makes 1 loaf.
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