1In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup warm water. Set it aside for a few minutes, to get foamy. Meanwhile, heat the milk, lard and sugar in a small saucepan until it's warm but not hot - the lard will start to melt, but doesn't need to melt completely. (If it gets too hot, leave it until it cools down to a bit warmer than body temperature.)
2Add the milk mixture to the yeast along with the egg, flour and salt and stir until the dough comes together. Knead for 5-6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Put it back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise for an hour or so, until doubled in size.
3Punch the dough down and divide it into three pieces. Roll each piece into a long rectangle - about 6x12-inches - and cut each lengthwise and crosswise into thirds, so that you have 9 rectangles. Melt the butter in a small dish and brush it over each piece, and the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking dish.
4Fold each rectangle almost in half lengthwise, leaving about a 1/2-inch at one end. Arrange them in the baking dish, overlapping them slightly, like shingles - I did 3 rows of 9, but some recipes go the other direction, with the long side of each piece of dough going along the long side of the baking dish. I've seen some lay theirs in concentric circles in a round cast iron skillet - it doesn't much matter. Brush the tops with butter, cover with plastic or a tea towel and set aside while you preheat the oven to 350F. (If your oven takes awhile to heat, refrigerate the buns - you don't want them to double in size this time. Some recipes say to chill the dough for half an hour, others to let them sit at room temp.)
5Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until nice and golden. Brush the tops of the buns with the remaining butter while they're still warm - and if you like, sprinkle with coarse salt. Makes 27 buns.