Certain traditions are just everywhere. At home, we always have a yeast braid at Easter, and here in Bulgaria we have a Bulgarian Easter braid at Easter, the kozunak.
Traditionally, the Easter bread or Easter braid is baked on Holy Saturday and eaten for breakfast on Easter Sunday. Since in Bulgaria the whole family gets together at Easter whenever possible, a large one is usually baked. But you can also easily make 2 Kozunaks from the dough and freeze one or give it away. I can highly recommend the giving away 🙂
Certainly you can upgrade the Kozunak with a few chopped nuts such as almonds or walnuts, dried apricots or even more raisins. There are no limits to your imagination and of course your taste!
The Bulgarian Kozunak Easter bread is similar to the normal German Hefezopf, but the sugar crust on top makes it so special and irresistible. And that is of course very welcome after Lent.
What do I have to consider with the dough?
The most important thing first—please knead the dough by hand! You can of course prepare it first in your favourite food processor. But you should knead it by hand for about 5 minutes at the end. And then put it in a big bowl and in a warm place so that it can proof. I always put it near the heater, that’s where the yeast dough feels most comfortable.
What also makes a subtle difference is the mixture of sunflower oil and butter. I put them together in a small saucepan and heat the butter in sunflower oil. But please don’t cook! Simply melt the butter in it and then remove from the warm stovetop until ready to use. And then just slowly add it to the dough at the end, as described in the recipe.
And if you don’t want to use rum, you can of course replace it with rum essence. Then simply soak the raisins in a little water and the rum essence.
The dough should also rest for 1.5-2 hours. Then it just becomes so fluffy. But the Kozunak dough needs to proof once more when he has been brought into shape. And, if you want, even longer than it takes your oven to preheat.
But what should the Kozunak look like?
Of course, every family has its own recipe and tricks. Some place the dough in a loaf pan where it is baked like bread. And some braid the dough and then put it in a round spring form pan, where it rises beautifully like a cake. And some then braid it like a classic braid and bake it on a baking tray.
How to do braid it:
Roll out the dough to a rectangular
Fill the dough with the rum raisins
Roll up the dough from the long side.
Braid all three strands of dough into a loose braid
Divide the dough into three equal pieces of dough. First, the dough is rolled out into a rectangle. Then the rum raisins are spread over the dough and rolled up from the long side. Next, this is repeated with the other two strands of dough and then braided into a loose braid.
But what is always the same is that you increase the baking temperature at the end of the baking time. So in my recipe from 140° to 180°. Then the Kosunak gets a wonderful baking color and a wonderful sugar crust. Heavenly.
Kozunak- a Bulgarian Easter bread
A Bulgarian classicmoderate
- 30 minutes
- 3 hours
- 1 hours
- 4 hours 30 minutes
|tsp orange zest
|tsp lemon zest
Steps of preparation
- Slightly warm the milk and mix the yeast and 1 Tbsp of the sugar and flour together and leave to rest for 10 minutes
- Put the butter with the oil in a small saucepan and melt over low heat
- Sift the remaining flour into a large bowl
- Add the lemon zest, orange zest, salt and vanilla to the flour and make a well in it.
- When the 10 minutes are up, add the yeast milk to the flour and knead with the eggs
- Slowly add the butter/oil mixture and knead everything together for 10-15 minutes.
- Cover the dough and let it proof in a large bowl for approx. 1.5-2 hour
- Put the raisins in a glass with the rum and let it marinate while the dough is resting
- Place parchment paper on a baking sheet
- Knead the dough again and divide the dough into 3 equal pieces
- Roll out each of the 3 pieces of dough thinly into rectangles
- Spread the raisins on each of the 3 rolled out sheets of dough
- Roll up from the long side
- Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces
- Braid the 3 strands of dough and place on a baking sheet
- Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise again
- Preheat the oven to 140°C
- Mix the egg yolk with the sugar
- Brush the braid generously with the egg yolk and sugar mixture
- Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake for 40 minutes
- After 40 minutes, heat the oven to 180°C and bake the kozunak for another 20 minutes
- After 10 minutes, if necessary, cover the braid with baking paper so that it does not turn black.
- Remove from the oven, cool and enjoy!