Lay the bread on a flat work surface. Spread 4 slices with a heaping tablespoon of cream cheese, and top each with the remaining slices of bread.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Place the bread flat in a casserole dish and cover with the egg mixture. Let soak* for 5 to 10 minutes.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pan. Add as many slices of soaked bread to the pan as will fit in 1 layer, and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.
Remove from the pan, place on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan and cook the remaining bread.
Sprinkle the French toast with powdered sugar and serve immediately with syrup.
NOTE: If using fresh bread, do not soak longer than 5 minutes, as the bread will get too soggy.
Add the warm water to the yeast and soak 10 minutes.
Scald milk; pour over the shortening. Add sugar and salt and cool to tepid.
Add the dissolved yeast and beaten egg. Add 4 cups flour adding one at a time beating after each addition. Dough should be soft yet firm enough to handle. Knead on floured board until elastic and smooth. Avoid too much flour.
Turn dough into well oiled bowl. Let rise for 1-1/2 hours.
Press dough down and divide into workable size. Roll dough out into a rectangle. cover with melted butter.
Layer with a generous thick layer of brown sugar. Sprinkle on cinnamon as desired. If you like raisins, layer on a layer of raisins.
Roll up jellyroll fashion. Using a scissors or a piece of string, cut off slices about 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick.
Place slices in an 8 or 9 inch round greased cake pan. Place one slice in the middle and other slices around it. Press rolls down to even out and fill pan. Let rise until the rolls fill the pan generously...about another hour.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven about 15 - 20 minutes. If rolls get too brown, cover with a piece of tin foil until the end of baking. Do not over bake rolls.
Remove immediately from pan by inverting onto a place and then tip over onto another plate.
Frosting: Stir in enough milk or cream to reach a thick, hardly able to stir consistency. Spread over warm rolls as soon as they are placed on a plate to let the frosting melt and run into the rolls.