In a small saucepan, add the milk and heat over medium heat until scalded (reaches 180 degrees F). Remove from the heat. Add the raisins to the hot milk and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, yeast** and salt and whisk to combine.
Add in the milk, raisins, eggs and melted butter. Add orange and lemon zest if using. Mix with a spoon until a rough dough is formed. Dump onto the counter and knead with your hands until a soft, cohesive dough is formed, about 5-8 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl and allow to rise for about 3 hours in a warm location.
After 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Cut off about 250 grams (very small handful) of dough for decorations.
Form the remaining dough into a ball and place into a greased, round baking dish, about 8 inches wide and 4 inches deep.
Form the remaining dough into decorations. I like to make braids, twists, and swirls. Use toothpicks to hold in place.
Allow the dough to rise for about another hour.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk together egg and water, and brush on the risen dough.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. If the top gets too brown, cover with foil.
Let cool in the pan. Once it's cool enough to handle, remove from the pan. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to a week.