Combine yeast, 1/2 c. water and 1 T. sugar in bowl and allow to proof, approx. 20 mins or about 45 for standard yeast.
Add egg, lard, salt and remaining sugar and water.
Stir in flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and can be handled.
Turn out on a floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and pliable, about 5 - 10 mins.
Shape into a ball and place into a greased mixing bowl.
Turn dough over so greased side is on top, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
Punch dough down, turn it over in the bowl, and allow to rise again until almost doubled in size.
Punch down and shape into 3 large loaves, or 4 braided loaves.
:- Cut dough into 12 equal pieces, roll each into a long rope and braid them into 4 loaves.
Allow loaves to rise.
Brush with egg wash (1 egg, 1 t. sugar, 1 t. water) or milk, if desired.
Bake in 375 F. oven for approx. 17 minutes. (braids) or 30-40 minutes (loaves) until brown on the outside and sounds hollow when tapped.