This bread makes wonderful Breakfast Toast, French Toast, Bread Pudding or simply sliced and used for sandwiches such as chicken salad (with bits of apples and plump raisins mixed in of course).
For the dough:
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 ½ c. lukewarm milk (100°F)
¾ c. plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3 ¾ to 4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 T. softened butter
additional softened butter for greasing bowl
For the swirl:
1 ½ T. melted butter
2 tT. light brown sugar
1 ½ tsp. Saigon cinnamon (Cinnabon or other high quality cinnamon can be substituted)
1/3 c. raisins, soaked overnight (optional)
Stir the yeast and 1 tsp. sugar in ¼ c. warm milk. Let proof (foam) as you measure out the dry ingredients.
Combine the remaining sugar with 3 ¾ c. flour, salt and 2 T. butter in a mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture and remaining milk using a wooden spoon or your hands. Continue to stir until the dough forms a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add additional flour.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and let rest a few minutes. If kneading the dough with a dough hook, wash and dry mixing bowl before placing the dough back in the bowl. Knead the dough by hand or on the lowest setting of your mixer until the dough takes on a silky quality, about 4 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add additional flour. To test that the dough has been kneaded enough make an indentation with two fingers. If the dough springs back it has been kneaded enough. Then let rest for several minutes.
Butter the inside of a clean, dry bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, and roll around to butter the dough. This will prevent drying out as it rises. Cover the bowl with a clean dry towel. Place the bowl in a warm (70°F), draft-free place. Let dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours.
When the dough has risen enough (doubled in size or an indentation made with your finger that will NOT spring back) punch it down and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 or 3 minutes, adding additional flour if necessary. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 8X16 inches. If the dough tends to pull back too much, I find gentle stretching helps it to elongate.
Brush the dough with melted butter (saving the excess for the final step). Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. If you would like to add raisins you should drain them then pat your raisins dry and sprinkle them now.
Starting at a short end, roll the dough up tightly and tuck the ends under. Place in a buttered 9×5x3 inch pan, seam side down. Covered a clean dry towel and let rise in warm place (70°F ) until the dough rises above the edge of the pan, about 40 minutes to 1 ¼ hours. The dough has risen enough when an indentation made with your fingers will fills back in slowly.
Once the loaf has risen, brush the top with the remaining melted butter and slash down the middle. Place in preheated 375°F oven for 35-45 minutes, or until rapping the bottom of the loaf produces a hollow sound. Remove from pan and let cook on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before cutting.