Bulgarian Kozunak – A Sweet Bread Inspiration

Kozunak
Video Recipe

Easter ,  the  time  for  eggs – chicken eggs ,  cadbury eggs , plastic eggs and   even  craft  eggs. How  can  eggy breads  be  far  behind ?   You guessed it – I am  on an Easter baking  spree. Today’s  recipe is  inspired  by the  traditional  Easter  bread of Bulgaria –  Kozunak.  Now, where do  the  eggs come in ?  As it  happens 😉 Kozunak  is enriched  with eggs, butter and  milk.  Easter or  not,  this is one  bread I would  love  to make  any time.

Though it  is  called  a  bread , I am  tempted  to  say  that it  is  more of  a  yeasted  cake.  A slice of  this is perfect as is  – or you could  make a  beautiful skillet  french toast or a  peanut  butter  and  banana sandwich  with it  too.  The loaves can be made  plain  or  filled  with   fruits  and   nuts.

There  are  similar  recipes  in the  neighboring  countries  with  different  names.   The  Romanian  cozonac  sounds similar , especially to an untrained  ear like mine.  It is  usually a marbled   bread with a  nutty filling.  Another  recipe to try ?  The   recipe  for  Bulgarian  Kozonak  I use  is    enough to make two 9 inch loaves. I usually add  some  kicked up raisins   and  almonds  to one  and  keep the other plain. Bulgarian Kozunak

This  is  the  plain  Kozonak. Whether you like  to keep it  plain or  not , it is  a  beautiful bread . Oh , did I mention that already ?  Well   it is a beautiful bread!   The   recipe here makes 2  loaves,   but don’t  worry , the  bread freezes  well.   Cool, slice,  bag and   freeze.

You could  halve  the  recipe  and  use  your  bread  machine’s  dough  setting  to  make the  dough.  Shape  and  bake  in the oven  or  use  the  sweet  bread  program  and   make  it  in the  machine.
Kozunak Dough

What you see above is the Kozunak   dough . It is a  little   wet than  usual.  Many Kozunak recipes  start with a  sponge.   I would  have  made one too, if I  were  not  using   packaged  yeast.   So instead I go the  standard   commercial  yeast  route  and  activate  the  yeast  in 1/2 C   warm   milk mixed  with 1 a little  sugar.  Many of  the  old  recipes  call for  scalding  the milk –  this  was  meant  for  raw  milk . If  you are   using  raw  milk  make  sure  that  you heat  it  til bubbles  begin to appear  and  cool  before  using  it  in recipes with  yeast.  The  milk  should  be  at the yeast  happy temperature – just  warm  to   touch (around 110°F) –  when you add the  yeast  to it.

Set aside the mix  for  5  to 10 minutes for  the  yeast  to bloom.  Reserve 1  to 2  cups of   flour. Take  the   remaining flour and  salt  in a large  mixing  bowl  and  make a  well in the  center.  Add the  yeast  mix  and  the  eggs . Beat  well and  slowly  start  mixing  in the  flour  to the  wet  mix, adding  more  milk as  necessary.  Once  all the  flour in  incorporated  add  the  sugar   and  softened  butter. Knead  everything  together.  The  dough  will be  very  wet  at  this  point.  Slowly add the  reserved  flour  as  you  knead, just   enough  to  prevent  the  dough from  sticking.  Knead  for   about  15  minutes. At this time the   dough  will still be wet  and  soft, but  not  sticky.

Kozunak

Knead  in the  stand mixer  if  you have  one – or  the  bread  machine. If planning  to use   the  bread  machine  follow  the  instructions  for  the   sweet   dough, and  use  half  the   milk   in the  beginning .  Check  the  a few   minutes  into the  kneading   and  add  the  remaining  milk  as  necessary.  Remember , the  standard  home  bread machines   will be  making  only 1  loaf  of  bread –  so use only half  of the recipe  here .

 

Kozunak Dough

Form the  dough  into a  ball and  place in a  greased  bowl large  enough  hold  at least  3 times  the   volume.  Cover   and  let  it  rest in a  warm place  for 1  to 1.5  hours.  This   dough  rises  really well ,almost  tripling  in 1.5  hours.  Do not  let  it   rise any more  though. Over rising  will weaken or break the  gluten  strands.

Punch down  the   dough.  This is  the  time  to add  any died  fruits or  nuts.  Divide the  dough  into 2 . Divide  each into 3  equal sections. Form  into a long  ropes  and make a  3  strand  braid.  Place the braids in the  loaf  pans  and  cover. Check the  video  to get a better   idea of shaping.   Let  rise in a  warm  place  until  the loaves are  almost  doubled. In this  recipe  using  a  9″ pan the   dough will just  peek over  the   top of the pan.

Pre-heat  the oven to 350°F (175°C). Break  an  egg  and  into a  bowl and  beat  well  along with 1  to 2  tsp  water.  Brush the tops  of the  loaves with  egg wash  and  sprinkle  with  sugar (optional).  Bake  for  30 to 40 minutes  or  till done.  When done  the  tops  would  have  browned  nicely   and  the  bread   will sound  hollow   when  tapped on the  bottom .  Another  way to test  is  to insert a  skewer into the  middle  of  the  loaf  and   it  should  come   come  out  clean.

Check the loaves  around 20 minutes into baking. If the  tops a re  browning too fast   cover  with  foil .    Cool in pan for  10 minutes  before  turning out on to a cooling  rack . Cool  Completely before  slicing .  If planning  to  freeze  slice  and  warp in a sheet of  parchment/wax paper  and  store in  freezer safe bags.

Did  someone  say they wanted a  slice ?

Kozunak

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Yield: 2 Loaves

Kozunak

Check notes for equivalent weight measurements .

Ingredients

Flour - 7 to 8 C
Yeast - 4 Tsp / 2 pkts
Fine Sea Salt - 1 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1/2 C
Milk - 1C + A little
Butter - 1 stick
Vanilla - 1/2 tsp
Eggs - 4 Large
Lemon Zest - 1 Lemon
Eggwash
Egg - 1
Water - 2Tsp
Optional
Raisins - 1/2 C
Rum/Cognac - 2 to 3 Tbsp
Slivered Almonds / Chopped nuts - 1/4 c
Coarse Sugar / Nib Sugar - 2 -3 Tbsp

Instructions

Heat the milk till it is warm to touch (110°F). Take half cup milk and mix in 1 Tbsp of sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. The yeast should become active and froth up .

Reserve about 2 C of flour (200g) and place the rest in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and stir well. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture followed by the eggs. Mix the eggs and yeast with a spoon and slowly start to mix in the flour. Add the remaining milk a little at a time and keep stirring with the spoon until all the flour is wet.

Add the softened butter and sugar and start kneading. The dough will be very sticky. As you knead add the reserved flour a little at a time until the dough is no longer sticky. Keep kneading for about 15 minutes. The dough should be soft and pliable. Form into a ball and place in a large greased bowl. Cover and let it rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours till it has doubled.

If using the raisins, place it in a bowl and pour the cognac/rum on top. Let these soak till ready to use. Squeeze out the excess alcohol out just before adding to the dough.

Punch down the dough and divide into 2. If planning to add nuts/ dried fruits knead those in now. Form each section into 3 ropes of similar size and make a 3 strand braid. Place each braid in a 9 inch loaf pan and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F(175°C). Break the egg for the egg wash into a bowl and add 2 tsp water. Beat well. Brush the egg wash on top of the risen loaves. Sprinkle the coarse/nib sugar on top , if desired. Place the loaves in the preheated oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or till done(see notes).

Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Notes

Use any unbleached, un-bromated high protein flour (AP Flour/ Bread Flour). The rough weight equivalents are - 750g Flour, 14g Yeast, 8g Salt, 100g Sugar, 230g Milk, 110g Butter.

https://oventales.com/bulgarian-kozunak-a-sweet-bread-inspiration/

 

Notes

  • This is a  recipe  that you go by the  feel.  The  amount of  milk  used  depends  greatly on the  size of  the  eggs.
  • You could  make a  giant  loaf  or mini  loaves/buns  as  well. Adjust  the  baking  time  accordingly.
  • The  tops  tend  to  brown  faster , especially if  your  oven is  small or if  it  has  hot  spots.   Check on the  loaves  at around   20  minutes   into baking to  prevent  the  tops  from burning.
  • The sugar  topping  gives  an  extra  sweetness to the  recipe.  Adding  more  sugar directly to the  dough  might  interfere with the  yeast activity.
Kozunak

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7 thoughts on “Bulgarian Kozunak – A Sweet Bread Inspiration

  1. I love baking bread at home, and in fact just posted about homemade Challah bread. Havent ever made Kozunak but you make me want to give it a go.

    1. Absolutely love challah !!! This is a bit sweeter and softer, more like brioche. Give it a go , you will like it !

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