Bulgarian Easter Bread Kozunak
Sweet Traditional Bulgarian Easter Bread Kozunak, stringy texture and amazing flavor.
Happy Friday everyone!
I know it is the perfect time for St. Patrick’s Day in the food blogging world, but unfortunately I don’t have any to share. At least, not yet!
I do have a sweet bread recipe, one of my favorite baked goods for Easter, which is less than a month away, just to remind you.
As some of you might already know, I was born in Bulgaria and like to share recipes from back home from time to time. I often get hesitant to post recipes, that use yeast, not that it is too difficult to work with it, but it does require patience. I would hate for anyone to waste any ingredients and will try to give some detailed instructions.
The dough for this sweet Easter bread could be made in in a bread machine, unfortunately I don’t own one…
Kozunak (also called Kozonak or Kozounak) is a sweet Bulgarian bread, often made for Easter. It is also popular in Romanian, French or Italian cuisines, under different names. It is similar to Italian Panettone.
Made with milk, flour, sugar, eggs, oil (or melted butter, I just prefer the texture when made with oil) and lemon zest (in Bulgaria), it has a unique flavor and ad stringy texture. Raisins, walnuts or chopped dried apricots are often added to the dough. This time I did not add anything to the dough, but you can do it after the dough rises.
I’m not gonna lie, the smell of this bread brings sweet memories from my childhood, but I’ve been making it pretty often, not just for Easter. Excuse its look, I’ve made better ones, but this one was delicious!
Tastes great with Nutella or jam in my opinion. Enjoy it with a cup of coffee or tea. Leftover slices can be used to make french toast of bread pudding.
Have a great weekend! It is supposed to be in the low 50s next week in the Chicago area, so I’m very excited, if that turns out to be true!
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Bulgarian Easter Bread Kozunak
- 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 eggs minus 1 egg yolk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- zest from 1 medium lemon
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter, I prefer oil)
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp cold milk
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp sugar
- In a small bowl combine dry yeast, 1/2 cup of the milk and 1 tbsp sugar. Cover and set a side for 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, sift flour and add in salt.Set a side.
- In a bowl (you can use a stand mixer) whisk together sugar and eggs, until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla and then milk. Add half of the oil. Mix to combine. Add in yeast and milk mixture and whisk to combine. Add 1/2 of the flour and mix until well combined.
- At this time you can add the lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Gradually add the rest of the flour, mixing jus until combined (I use my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the dough hook of speed 4-6). Add the remaining oil in 2-3 parts, mixing in between.
- Dough should be soft and sticky.
- Transfer dough to a large grades and floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at a warm place, until it doubles its size. This may take between 2-5 hours, depending on the temperature, humidity and types of ingredients used.
- Meanwhile prepare the egg wash for brushing the bread by whisking together 1 egg yolk, 1 tbsp milk and 1 tbsp oil. Keep in the fridge.
- Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Oil and flour a 9x5 in loaf pan. Set a side.
- Once the dough rises, transfer to a generously floured working surface. Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Form balls, then roll into logs. Make a braid out of the dough. Transfer to loaf pan. Cover and let it rest for 15 more minutes.
- Brush bread with de wash and top wit a generous amount of sugar.
- Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 F (177 C) and bake for at least 20-30 more minutes, until the top of the bread is browned and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let bread cool inside the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let it cool completely.
Here are some step by step pictures of the process: