Thursday, February 26, 2009
Kozunak is a very traditional Bulgarian Easter bread. It is similar to Greek tsoureki, though not so complicated in terms of flavours and herbs used. There are different variations of the main dough, as dried fruit, lemon zest, raisins and nuts with cinnamon and sugar can be added.
The most important thing when preparing this recipe is to allow the dough to rise properly, for which you will need a very warm room for about 5 hours.
Because kneading this dough is quite tricky, I used the help of a bread maker instead of kneading by hand.
This is my first successful result after two failures, and I am quite happy with it.
So here are the products for a base recipe for two 500 gr loaf tins.
500 gr strong white flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
175 ml warm milk
1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
200 gr sugar
100 gr melted butter (or 50 gr melted butter and 50 gr sunflower oil)
more sugar to sprinkle
Note: The dough should rise twice for about two hours each time.
First dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and add 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp flour. Leave aside to 15 minuties until the yeast is activated and starts to rise.
Beat the eggs with the sugar very well. Add the milk and yeast and mix.
Heat the bakepan of the bread maker a little, so that it is not cold. Place the eggs and milk mixture, add the flour, vanilla and salt and turn on the dough programme.
After the first several turns, start adding the melted butter very carefully and litrtle by little, so it is incorporated gradually. Wait until the first dash of butter is incoporated before adding more. Add the whole butter in 4-5 dashes.
Then leave the mashine to knead and wait for the whole programme to end (it should take about 1:30-2 hours). During this time, the dough should have risen once.
Prepare the loaf tins - make sure they are heated and warm as well. Line with baking paper.
Divide the dough in two, and then each half in three, so you have six dough balls. Work with oily hands and divide the dough by pulling it until it breaks, do not cut.
Using your palms form rolls from the dough, twisting slightly.
Make each three rolls into a plait and place the two plaits in the warmed loaf tins and cover with cotton kitchen towel. The plaits of dough should occupy about 1/3 part of the loaf. Leave aside to a very warm place. I placed the tins over the radiator.
Now the most important part - do not allow the temperature to decrease.
After two hours, if the temperature has been kept high, you'll notice that the dough has doubled in volume and lightened in weigh. Now the kozunak is ready for the oven.
However, before placing it there, cover the top with the beaten whole egg. (You can also use only the yolk, or only the egg white instead). Sprinkle enough sugar on top and enough almonds.
Preheat the oven to 200 (210) degrees and put the two loaves inside. After 10 minutes lower the heat to 180 (190) degrees and bake for more 30 minutes.