In a small saucepan, combine the milk, butter, sugar, and pepper. Place over medium-high heat and bring to about 43 degrees C. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the milk. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
Pour the milk and yeast mixture into the bowl of flour and mix until a soft, ragged mixture is formed. Transfer the mixture to a well-floured work surface and knead until a soft elastic dough is formed, about 10 minutes.Note: If you're using a food processor, attach the dough blade, add all the ingredients and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, and place in a warm spot, until puffed and doubled in size, about 2 hrs.
Place a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 200C/Gas 6. Transfer the dough to the work surface and, using your hands, gently flatten it into a 25cm round shape. Fold the dough into thirds lengthwise, overlapping the sides in the centre. Press down on the overlapping sides to seal and make a seam. Place it seam side-down in a buttered tray, cover with a tea towel, and return to the warmest part of the kitchen until the dough has risen about 4cm over the top of the pan, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Brush the top of the dough lightly with warm water and, using a sharp knife, make 1/2cm deep slit down the centre. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Remove the loaf from the pan and place in the centre of the rack. Continue baking until the loaf sounds hollow when wrapt lightly with your knuckles on the bottom and top, and a thermometer inserted in the center reads 94 C, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the bread loaf to a cooling rack and let cool for 2 hours before using.