Combine the yeast, 2 tablespoons warm milk and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl and let rest.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of milk, the butter and the 2 tablespoons sugar and mix on low speed for a minute or two. You can use the paddle or do this by hand. Dorie uses the paddle in her recipe, but since this is a small batch you might want to just use a spoon or scraper until it's time to use the dough hook.
Add the salt, egg and vanilla, as well as the zest and the nutmeg and mix for a minute. Add the yeast mixture and beat until fully blended.
Add about 1 1/2 cups (about 210 grams) of the flour and mix until blended. Attach the dough hook. Add 1/4 cup of flour (about 35 grams) and begin kneading with the dough hook. If the dough does not come together and almost clean the sides of the bowl, add up to 2 tablespoons more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep the mixer speed at a medium and knead the dough for about 3 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. The dough will be very soft, much too soft to knead by hand.
Butter a large bowl, turn the dough into the bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
If you are using the raisins, now is a good time to put them in some warm water and let sit for an hour.
Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Using your hands, pat it into a large rectangle. At this point you probably won't be able to pat it into a 10x16 rectangle, so just pat it as close as you can get. Set it on a flat surface (a dinner plate or cutting board) and slide it into the freezer for 30 minutes to firm.
Grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan (1 pound capacity) Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
Put the cold dough on a large work surface lightly dusted with flour, lightly dust the top of the dough and roll the dough into a rectangle about 10x16 inches. If you were able to make a pretty good rectangle before freezing, you should not have to do much rolling.Gently smear about 1 1/2 tablespoon of the butter over the surface of the dough–this is most easily done with your fingers. Sprinkle over the sugar mixture and scatter over the raisins (if using -- and make sure to pat them dry!). Starting from a short side of the dough, roll the dough up jelly-roll fashion, making sure to roll the dough VERY snugly. Fit the dough into the pan, seam side down, and tuck the ends under the loaf. The roll will be wider than the pan, so you really do have to tuck in the ends and kind of pinch the whole roll inward to fit.
Cover the pan loosely with wax paper and set in a warm place; let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edge of the pan, about 45 minutes.
Getting Ready to Bake: When the dough has almost fully risen, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter and brush the top of the loaf with the butter. Put the pan on the baking sheet and bake the bread for about 20 minutes. Cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when the bottom of the pan is tapped. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then unmold. Invert the bread and cool to room temperature right up on the rack.