We always have kozunak in Bulgaria for easter. This year I attempted to make one for the first time and it turned out really good. It brought me back to my memories of grandma kneading this massive yellowy bread and the vanilla aroma in the house. She always made a little one for the kids to try as we were quite inpatient.
This is a very rich eggy bread, similar to brioche or the italian panettone cake. It can be frozen and also works great in a bread pudding.
- 500g strong white flour
- 1 packet of fast action yeast (or 1 tsp of dry yeast)
- 100 ml milk
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup oil
- 4 eggs
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1 cup sultanas
- 50 ml amaretto or brandy
- 1/2 cup of brewed english breakfast tea
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup almond flakes (optional)
For best results you need to start the bread the night before. Mix the yeast, 1 tsp sugar, pinch of salt and 100 ml luke warm milk. Stir well and let it stand for 20 minutes in a warm place to develop. You will see the bubbles forming on top. Meanwhile melt the butter and set aside. In a large bowl sift the flour and make a well in the middle (to pour the wet ingredient later). In a separate bowl whisk together 1 cup sugar, the oil, 3 of the eggs, the lemon zest and the vanilla essence.
Once the yeast is ready, pour it in the flour well. Pour the egg mixture on top and mix into a dough. Take the dough out onto a flat surface and start kneading. Pour a little bit of the melted butter at a time while kneading until it is all absorbed. You need to knead the dough for at least 10-15 minutes to get as much air inside as possible. You can also start knocking the dough and trowing it onto the surface. I read somewhere that in order to make a good easter bread you need to throw and knock it 100 times, I haven’t counted but I think I did just about 100 😉
Transfer the dough into a large (at least 2-3 times bigger in volume) bowl, cover it and leave it to rest overnight at room temperature.
Make a cup of tea. Soak the sultanas in the amaretto and cover with tea on top. Leave them to soak overnight.
On the next morning, the dough will be at least doubled in size. Take it out of the bowl and knead it slightly just to get some of the air out. Separate into 3 balls. Drain the sultanas and get the walnuts at hand.
Roll out each ball to 5mm thickness, sprinkle with the sultanas and walnuts and roll again into a long tube shape. Plat the three tubes into a french plat and transfer onto a roasting tin lined with baking paper. Rest for an hour. Preheat the oven to 160C. Brush on the bread with 1 egg yolk, sprinkle sugar on top and some almond flakes if using. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until it’s cooked inside and golden on top. Serve warm or cold.
I hope you enjoy my recipe, please let me know what you think!