In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. No need to let sit until foamy. Add another 1 3/4 cups warm water. 3 Tbsp sugar, 2 Tbsp melted butter, and 4 cups flour. Stir together. Add salt and beat until smooth, with a wooden spoon, dough hook, or electric mixer. (Mix in raisins now if using.) If needed, mix in extra 1/4 cup flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead dough until it does not stick to surface or sides of bowl (if using electric mixer). Add in as little flour as possible. Continue kneading for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Grease a large bowl with a little softened butter or baking spray. Place dough in and turn over. Cover with plastic or a lightweight dishtowl and let rise for 40 minutes (until double in size).
Mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon. Set aside.
Spray loaf pans generously with baking spray. Set aside.
When double in size, remove dough from bowl and punch down on surface. Give it a few kneads to get air out and let rest for 10 minutes.
Divide dough evenly into 2 or 4 pieces. Roll out each portion one at a time (a bit longer and wider than pans you are using). With a bread knife, spread on a light film of butter over 4 mini loaves or 2 large loaves. For minis, 2 tbsp per loaf. For large, 1/4 cup per loaf. Roll up tightly beginning at short end, continually tucking in edges. Place in greased pans. Brush loaves with melted butter if desired. Cover with plastic sprayed with baking spray and let rise 20 minutes (until double). Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Bake 12-13 minutes for mini loaves. About 25 minutes for large loaves. Cool on wire rack.
Prepare frosting if using. Ina small bowl, mix together powdere sugar, butter, and vanilla. Slowly add 2 tbsp of milk. Frost loaves while still warm. Cool. Serve or freeze for up to 2 months.