You'll need -
2 packages of dry yeast, or about a scant tablespoon of yeast
2 cups liquid (if you're not sure of your yeast, proof it in a cup of warm water to see if it bubbles, otherwise, use milk) You want this to be about 105 degrees or warm to the touch. To test the temperature, jam your finger in the water / milk and see if you don't go 'ow!'
1/3 cup butter (softened or melted and cooled)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp salt
A bit more than 3 1/2 cups of bread flour (all purpose works, but bread flour gives you a better crumb).
Mix about 2 1/2 cups flour, yeast, salt, and then add the wet ingredients. You want to have a wet sloppy sponge that is starting to get texture from the gluten forming. Cover it and let it double (about a 1/2 hour at high altitude in a warm room). Mix more flour (about a cup) in until you have a cohesive mass, and then knead it. You want a dough that's still slightly sticky and elastic. If it starts to stick to your hands, use a small amount of flour. The less flour you use, the lighter and more pleasant the final dough will be.
Let the kneaded dough rise one more time, if you'd like, or form it on a greased baking sheet (two loaves will fit on one tray) and let it rise again covered with a damp cloth or a bowl.
Glaze, if you'd like with one egg mixed with 1 tsp of water and then bake at 375 for about 25 minutes. It's done when it's golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom. You may want to give them 5 minutes in the oven off the tray to crisp the bottom.
Other options -
Babka - Same dough, add one more yolk and use the white to hold together almond paste (blanched almonds, sugar, almond seasoning), add a quarter teaspoon ground cardomom, fill with almond paste, chocolate, and rum soaked raisins.
Cinnamon bread - cinnamon and sugar filling, mix cinnamon in dough. Add raisins if you'd like.
Polish Christmas bread - filling = 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tb butter, 1/2 cup diced orange peel, 1/4 cup dark raisins, 1/2 cup citron, 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds. Put almonds on top before baking.