For Christmas Eve Martin requested Kozunak. This is a sweet bread that is made during Easter – since it is also called Easter Bread I would have to say Easter is this bread’s party season 🙂 However, it is also made during Christmas and New Years in Bulgaria. There are several ways you can make this bread by adding different ingredients. I made a basic Kozunak. Honestly, this was a bit of a challenge for me. I made 2 doughs last weekend. Martin said it was a good bread but not Kozunak. I checked further online for some other recipes during the week and this one was successful for me. However, I had to do the milk/yeast/sugar twice. (Well, if you count last week it would be 4 times.) Anyways, I finally figured it out. End result, it really is not difficult to do, just takes time. Today was a success. Martin said this was definitely Kozunak. PHEW!!
(adaption of recipe from Annie’s Art Book)
7 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp salt
6 large eggs
1 1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (I put vanilla in everything sweet!)
4 tsp dry yeast
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp sugar
2/3 cup melted butter
2/3 cup vegetable oil
To brush on bread before putting in oven; 1 egg yolk and 1 Tablespoon water. Mix together.
2-3 tbsp lemon zest ( if you like it) or lemon flavor. (Since Martin is not a fan of lemon I left this out. Next time, lemon zest!)
I used a stand up mixer for the recipe
1. Preheat the oven to 350F
2. In a medium bowl combine the yeast mixture ingredients- milk, yeast and 1 tsp of sugar. (Now here comes the hard part for me! I ended up warming the milk in 30 second intervals – on the lowest setting, in the microwave. It took about 3 minutes to get the milk very luke warm. Not hot to the touch at all. I could put my finger in the milk ant it was slightly warm) Stir until the yeast dissolves completely, then cover with plastic wrap so it can stay warm and wait 15 min to proof. It will have bubbles on top for sure!
3. Sift flour and salt in large bowl (I did not sift it though)
4. Mix on high speed, with the paddle attachment, the eggs, vanilla and sugar until creamy.
5. Add the yeast mixture, melted butter and vegetable oil, mix well.
6. Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients until well incorporated. Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Add lemon zest at this time if you like it.
7. Grease a large bowl or casserole dish with oil and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours. (I put my bread to rise in the microwave. That way I avoid drafts.)
8. After the dough is ready, divide into 3 equal parts. (I weighed the pieces.) I made 2 braided breads. I used my bundt pan and put each one in the bundt pan. (Next time I will probably use a larger baking pan. I had a little bit of an issue with the middle of the bread baking. It ended up working out but next time different pan)
9.If you do not want to braid the bread you can take a ball of dough, roll it out with your rolling pin on a greased surface, you can add if you want filling like, nuts, chocolate, jam, raisins etc, then roll it inwards.
10.Back to braiding; when you have all your “ropes” hold the ends of each rope and twist them in the opposite directions.
11. Braid the ropes together and place them in greased deep baking pans. Let them rise until they reach the top of the baking pan.
12. When the Kozunak has risen, brush with egg yolk on top, sprinkle some sugar and/or some nuts. I sprinkled one half with sugar and the other have with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes, depending on the shape you choose and the size of the pan you are using.
This is a delicious, sweet bread.
Simple, maybe not, but well worth it. You don’t need a holiday to bake this bread, just time. 🙂