This is a recipe I (Mark) got from my mom. I've had to fiddle with it until it works in my hands. Hopefully, this will work for some of you.
1. Warm 2 cups milk and 1/4 cup butter in the microwave (about 1.5 min on high, or until warm: you want to get the dough to temperature to help the yeast rise).
2. In a small cup, mix 1.5 Tbsp of yeast, 1 Tbsp sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water. Let it stand at room temperature for ~5 min.
3. Pour the milk and butter into a KitchenAid. (Sorry if you don't have one. I have no idea how to do this without.) Add the following
1/2 Tbsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
~3 cups flour (Bread flour seems to work better than all-purpose flour; the rolls are fluffier, presumably due to the higher content of gluten, and the increased elasticity of the dough).
Beat until mixed well with the paddle attachment.
4. Add the yeast mixture, and mix well.
5. Switch to the dough hook attachment, and add another 2 cups of flour. (You may need more flour. Add slowly until the dough no longer sticks to the side, and instead is clumped in a ball on the hook).
6. Put in an oiled bowl and let rise for 1 h. (I just let it rise in the KitchenAid bowl). I usually warm up the oven to where it feels like ~95ºF (or how your car feels on a Spring afternoon), and let the dough rise there. The dough will double in volume.
7. Here is where the cinnamon and regular roll recipes diverge.
FOR CINNAMON ROLLS: Put the dough on a floured surface, and make two equally sized balls. For each ball, roll out to make a roughly 8x10 square. You'll notice, especially if you use bread flour, that the dough is super-rubbery, and you'll have to stretch it somewhat.
Take 2 Tbsp of softened butter, and spread it over the surface.
Then add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and spread that over the butter.
Last spread 1/3 cup of raisins.
Roll the dough using the long edge (so you end up with a 10 inch log).
Using dental floss, slice through the log one inch apart. (If you had two logs, you will end up with ~20 cinnamon rolls).
Place on a cookie tray that has been sprayed with Pam, about 1/2-3/4 inches apart (depending on how dense or fluffy you want your rolls), and let rise for another hour.
FOR REGULAR ROLLS: As above, split the dough in two. I like to roll it out pretty well to get rid of the air bubbles and give me a uniform consistency. Slice off a big or small chunk, depending on how big you want your roll to be (I like to get about 12 rolls per ball of dough; or 24 rolls in all).
Using extra flour, work the dough in your hands using your thumbs to work the dough down-wards while your index and middle fingers work the dough up-wards to make a nice ball.
Place the dough on a cookie tray, spaced an inch or two apart, and let rise for an hour.
8. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
9. Just before putting the regular rolls in the oven, you may want to brush the tops with melted butter, so they look shiny.
9. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the rolls are light brown.