Butter (for the bowl)
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut up, at room temperature
1 cup dark raisins
1. Generously butter a large mixing bowl. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and butter a sheet of plastic wrap (both used after shaping the dough).
2. In a measuring cup, stir together the yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and water. Set aside for 5 minutes.
3. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and buttermilk and warm it to dissolve the sugar (the buttermilk may separate). Remove from the heat, whisk well, and tip into a mixing bowl; set aside for 5 minutes or until tepid. Whisk in the vanilla, eggs, and yeast mixture.
4. In a heavy-duty mixer, use a spoon to stir together 4 cups of the flour and salt. Add the buttermilk mixture; this makes a shaggy dough. Set the bowl on the mixer stand and attach the dough hook. Beat on low speed for 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the remaining flour and beat 1 minute.
5. Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat on low speed to blend it. Add the remaining 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 3 minutes, stopping the machine and scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time.
6. Scrape the dough into the buttered bowl, turn to coat it all over, and use kitchen shears to make several cuts in the dough. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature to rise for 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
7. Pat the dough down lightly with a rubber spatula. Leave for 10 minutes.
8. Sprinkle the raisins on the dough and fold it over onto itself to knead in the raisins.
Flour (for sprinkling)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated or superfine sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1. On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough to a 15-inch square. Spread it with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Fold over about 1/2 inch of each side and pinch to seal. Roll the dough into a tight, thick jelly roll. Seal the long seam by pinching it lightly. If it has contracted slightly, gently roll and pull the roll lengthwise to elongate it to 15 inches.
2. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 15 slices. Let them sit for 10 minutes.
3. Plump the slices into rounded mounds, making sure the outer circle of dough is pinched tight to allow the mounds to bake evenly. Place the mounds in the baking pan, making 3 rows of 5 mounds each.
4. Cover loosely with the buttered plastic wrap. Let the buns rise for 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
5. Set the oven at 375 degrees.
6. Discard the plastic wrap. Bake the buns for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut up, at room temperature
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In an electric mixer bowl sift the confectioners’ sugar and salt. Add the butter, half-and-half, and vanilla.
2. Beat at low speed until smooth. Add more confectioners’ sugar or half-and-half to adjust the consistency and make a smooth and spreadable icing.
3. Spoon and sweep the icing over the warm buns, spreading it as it melts.
4. Let the icing set for 1 hour. Detach the buns from one another and use an offset spatula to lift them out of the pan. Lisa Yockelson. From “Baking Style’’