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Easter recipe: Bulgarian sweet bread “Kozunak”

After Christmas, Easter is the second holiday that brings together the entire family. And due to the fact that people from all over the world are celebrating Easter, the traditions and customs related to it are very diverse.

Fortunately, we are given the opportunity to learn and enjoy the various celebrations associated with Easter. In my homeland – Bulgaria, Easter, just as Christmas, is a holiday that we associate with family and hygge. It is the time when nature revives for a new life, but as every new beginning it is difficult. The day before one of the most celebrated Christian holidays, Bulgarians prepare bread, but it’s not just ordinary bread. It is special and its recipe is only used for Easter. Although Easter in Denmark is over, we can still treat ourselves just for a little bit longer. For that reason, I would like to share with you this recipe for sweet bread, called “kozunak”, which is a culinary challenge, but it is definitely worth it! There are many variations, so it’s up to you to decide which flavour you want to add in order to fit your taste. In my personal opinion it goes best with Nutella! Yummy!

P. S. You can use some inspiration about the shape through the photos, but you can also leave that to your imagination.

 

 

INGREDIENTS

Bread:

  • 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
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Egg wash:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp cold milk
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Topping:

  • 2 tbsp sugar

To make the bread:

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(butter). 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 just until combined.  Add the remaining oil(butter) 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 9×5 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 with a generous amount of sugar (add raisins if you like)

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.

 

Good luck and enjoy!

 

Written by Melani T./ISA

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