In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the yeast, warm water & ½ teaspoon of sugar. Leave to develop for 5-minutes, until slightly foamy on top.
Meanwhile, we get the rest of the ingredients ready. In a large bowl, whisk together the caster sugar, the flour, & the salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, & sugar.
When the yeast is ready, add it to the flour mixture, immediately followed by the egg mixture. Stir everything together & turn it out onto a lightly floured surface; knead the dough by hand for 5-7 minutes, or until the dough feels smooth, supple, & only slightly sticky.
Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, cover it with cling film, & leave it to rise in a warmish area for about 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size. (It was freezing when I made this, so I left my dough near the radiator.)
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper & set aside.
Once the dough has doubled in size remove from the warm area & begin the shaping. Divide the dough in half & leave one of the halves in the covered bowl while you shape the other. On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough out into a long rectangle (roughly 3 x 12-inches) & use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 3 long snake-like shapes of equal size. Pinch the shapes together at one end, braid them together as you would hair, and then pinch together at the other end when finished. (I had to watch a YouTube tutorial on this, as I panicked at the last minute & forgot how to braid.)
Once shaped, transfer the loaf to the baking sheet & repeat with the second half of the dough. Leave the two loaves to rise – covered with cling film on the baking sheet – for a further 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180C.
Before baking in the oven, brush the loaves with a light layer of water & top with a generous sprinkle of sea salt. Bake until the loaves are golden brown in colour & baked through, about 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool slightly, then enjoy a warm slice slathered with butter.