Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Bread and Knot Cookies - Hungarian kalacs

sugar rolled knot cookies

It is so great when you manage to track down a childhood favourite recipe, thought forever lost. And this is exactly what happened some days ago. But let's start from the beginning.

For this Easter I decided to go for a new recipe for our traditional Easter bread, which is called kozunak. The thing is, I always thought kozunak is very difficult to make - and working with dough and kneading as well. There  is some saying in Bulgaria that to make a good kozunak you have to push the dough 100 times on the table - and even though you do so it is still not sure what the end result will be.

This proved to be far from the truth, well at least with smaller quantities like two loaves.

I usually have very high expectations from a kozunak recipe, just a sweet bread won't do, I'd consider it a failure. However, when I first started trying to knead the dough three years ago, I was unsure in my kneading abilities so I started with a bread maker for the kneading first. Then I found out that it was better if I knead by hand, than using the machine and since I make it only once or twice a year (and not more than two loaves anyway), hand kneading is not a big deal.
I don't do the 100 times pushing though, just a gentle kneading, waiting for the dough to rise twice properly, buttering and twisting the dough works just fine and I get what I want. (Or I might be thinking I get what I want because I am living away from home and haven't tried really good kozunak, as it should be; it's difficult to say.) I am happy with the recipe I tried his time which was for Hungarian kalacs.

When I read a recipe for the kalacs by fellow blogger Zizi from Zizi's Adventures, I instantly decided to try it. It somehow reminded me of a recipe for knot cookies my grand mother used to make many years ago, which is now lost forever as nobody of the family wrote it down.

But the knot cookies were a family favourite. They were made from the same dough used for the kozunak (or that's what I thought)- which by the way never turned out so great as the cookies, and yet the two had a very different consistency.
I could remember the method, but not the recipe. However something in this post was telling me, this is the recipe I was looking for.
Finally I did not use Zizi's recipe, because I couldn't find it in the day I decided to make the kalacs, so I adapted this recipe instead.

Since my niece who suffers from cow's milk protein allergy was with us I had to adapt the recipe.

I am very pleased to announce that this recipe is the closest to what we had as kids! And I just need to blog it, so it never disappears again.

I need to add that if you use this recipe for Easter bread (kozunak) it is not sweet enough. That's why I served with mirabelle plum jam.
The recipe is perfect for the knot cookies though!

easter bread - kozunak

adapted from

Makes two 1 lb loaves of kozunak/kalacs/Easter bread

or one loaf of kozunak/kalacs/Easter bread and 30 larger knot cookies

or 60-70 smaller knot cookies 


200 ml warm goat's milk
1 tbsp dry yeast 
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp flour

700 gr flour
1 tsp salt
125 g butter melted
1 tsp +1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200 g goat's yogurt
3 medium-sized eggs

Sugar for sprinkling 


All ingredients should be at room temperature, except milk - it needs to be a bit warmer, but not too much so it doesn't kill the yeast.

Sprinkle the dry yeast in the lukewarm milk and add the sugar and flour. Mix well and leave until the yeast is activated - it should go on the surface and the whole mixture is going to rise a bit.
In a big bowl combine the flour, salt, the beaten eggs, the vanilla, the yogurt and finally add the yeast mix. Start kneading with your hands or with a fork. Gradually add the melted butter in 3 times, kneading well in between.

Knead until the butter has ended and the dough is soft and does not stick. If needed add more flour or butter or both.
Cover the bowl with the dough with a plastic wrap and leave until it doubles its volume for one hour and 10 - 15 minutes.

Here the method differs depending on what you are making:

If you make the Easter bread loaf:

The Easter Bread

Divide half the dough into 3 balls. Butter your hands and make three "snakes". Twist each, then knead. Place in the loaf tin buttered and sprinkled with flour.
\brush with melted butter, (egg wash), and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Leave in a warm place to double volume inside the tin, then bake for some 40 minutes on 180 degrees .

Easter bread

If you make the knot cookies:

knot cookies

divide the dough into 4 pieces. Take a small piece (depending on how big cookies you want) like a cherry tomato or an egg. Work between your hands to make a "snake". Roll in caster sugar, then make the knot.
Place on a lined tin. Sprinkle with extra sugar.

Leave space between the cookies so they don't touch after baking.

Do not leave them to rise for a second time. Bake strait away at 180 fan oven for 15 minutes until golden.

The best thing about them is the caramelised bottoms- delicious!

Happy Easter!


Zita said...

OMG, these photos look so beautiful, I love them! Thank you for the mention!!!

MyFudo™ said...

This is a yummy looking bread...Want to try this too.

Jacqueline @Howtobeagourmand said...

How lovely, great to learn about old childhood favourites!
The texture of the Easter Bread looks a bit like the inside of croissant - are they alike?

Sneige said...

Thanks Jacquie!
The beared is denser than croissant and totally different in texture.
But now as you mentioned croissants, I crave one :D

Fiona Maclean said...

Those look gorgeous! one day I WILL bake!!!!

Sneige said...

:) I hope you'll like them!

Sue said...

Thanks for the excellent bread recipe!
We substituted goat's milk and yogurt for lactose-free milk and lactose-free sour cream. Will add a bit more sugar next time.
The texture of the bread was fabulous and I'm sending it to my sister so she can bake it tomorrow.

Sneige said...

HI Sue, thank you very much for your comment! Very happy you liked the bread!
I also made it again this Easter :)

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