Andy's Culinary Book: Kozunak (Bulgarian Easter sweet bread)
Easter, a special and colourful occasion, can be splendid and memorable when celebrated in a different atmosphere with a local touch.
Painting the eggs in Bulgaria can be done only on two days - Thursday before Easter or the early morning on Saturday and the first painted egg should be red and used to touch the foreheads of the kids for health and luck.
However, preparation of the ritual "kozunak", home-made sweet bread with raisins and nuts, is not limited to pre-holiday timing and can be done at any time. The truth is it is not so easy but the result is worth every effort!
Today Andy gives us one of the recipes for this delicious Easter creation. The needed products include the following:
- 6 eggs
- 1 kg special"kozunak" flour (sold in supermarkets and smaller shops)
- 280 g sugar
- 200 ml milk
- 55 g yeast
- 10 g salt
- 100 ml oil
- 100 g butter
- One egg (boiled for not more than 7 minutes)
- Raisins, walnuts, almonds or Turkish delight pieces - in the amount you consider delicious!
The preparation takes between 2 and a half up to 3 hours depending on the temperature inside the room and the rising of the dough.
Warm the milk and put the yeast into it, add a bit of sugar and flour until obtaining a thin mixture. Warm the butter and the oil. Beat the eggs and the sugar and heat in an oval container under water bath. You should be very careful to keep the appropriate temperature of all products (otherwise the process of the dough rising may be delayed).
Sift the flour and gradually add the yeast mixture, not forgetting to knead the dough at all times - if this sounds too difficult you can use a mixer in slow stirring mode. Easter bread experts claim that the skilfully made kozunak requires hitting the dough on the wooden board 100 times :) so that a lot of air goes into the bread. Thus when you cut or pull a piece off the loaf, you will see beautiful long fibres of bread inside.
Add half of the oil and when you manage to create a homogeneous mixture, leave it in a warm room for 50 minutes so that the dough can rise.
Use the nuts to enhance the taste and then shape according to your preferences: some people use baking tins, others paper forms, and still others who want to achieve the top of kozunak artistry, make long braids out of the dough.
Now comes the moment for the kozunak to sleep (rise) some more - 20-30 minutes will be enough this time!
And finally bake in a preliminary heated oven for 45-50 minutes without opening the oven door during the first half an hour. With the kozunak ready and out of the oven and the eggs painted in all colours and art techniques, you are ready for Easter!
Serve with yoghurt and celebrate with pleasure.
For those of you who would prefer buying a ready kozunak, you are most welcome to buy it at the Kempinski Hotel Zografski - we have used this same recipe to make your holiday more delicious!