In a standing mixer or large bowl, combine the yeast with a couple of tablespoons of lukewarm water. Let it sit until your yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Mix for about a minute.
Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe medium bowl, combine milk with the butter pieces, sugar, salt, and microwave for about a minute. Stir until everything melts.
Lightly whisk the egg into the butter mixture (if the mix is too hot, let it cool to a warm to prevent eggs from curdling).
Dump everything into the yeast mixture.
Mix by hand at medium-high speed using a dough hook until all the ingredients are combined.
Then add 3½ cups of flour, spices, and grated orange zest. Continue mixing the dough. Then stop when the dough doesn't stick to the sides or bottom of the bowl when kneading.
Add additional flour (if needed) to make a soft dough. If kneading by hand, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about six minutes.
Add the raisins and continue kneading for two more minutes to incorporate them into the dough.
Place the dough in a large greased bowl, then cover it loosely with a clean damp cloth. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled for an hour or two. Punch the dough down. (See Recipe Notes for a make-ahead tip)
Divide your dough into 12 equal pieces, and shape the pieces into balls. Place in a greased 9×13 baking pan, baking sheet, or large oven-proof skillet.