I published this post a few years ago, but I’ve decided to update it and publish it again today. One of the challenges at Bake Off this week was to make a festive bake. One of the contestants made kozunak, the Bulgarian version of Cozonac. On Tuesday, a few hours before the show was aired, I baked a loaf for my husband as he enjoys this. Imagine my surprise when I watched the show.
Cozonac is a traditional Romanian sweet loaf. This dessert is made for Christmas, Easter, and other special occasions. For weddings, the old tradition is that the godmother will make a round cozonac for the bride, the cozonac is tear and given to the guests. Traditional weddings today still do this.
The recipe I’m sharing is my family’s special recipe, passed down from my grand-grandmother to my mother and then on to me. It is a bit different because it has two types of dough, but nevertheless, it’s still very similar to the one any Romanian knows.
Usually the loaf is filled with walnuts, raisins, Turkish delight, and/or cocoa paste. As I’ve made it specially for my husband, I skipped the raisins, as he doesn’t like them. Instead of walnuts, any kind of nuts would be good. For this recipe I’ve used almonds and cashews.
The milk and eggs have to be at room temperature, so get them out of the fridge half an hour before you start making the dough. This is an older recipe, with dairy milk. I’ve made cozonac with vegan milk and it works great.
As it was hot, I left the doughs to prove on the worktop, but I usually put them in a bowl and cover them with cling film and a tea towel.
Ingredients for 2 loafs of Cozonac:
– 600g strong white flour
– 400g strong wholemeal flour
– 2 free range eggs
– 500ml milk
– 150g sugar
– 15g Easy bake yeast
– 25g cocoa powder
– 300g Turkish delight
– 80g almonds and cashew or nuts
– mixed peel
– Rum flavour
– Vanilla paste
– 2 spoons of oil
Mix the 2 types of flour together and make a well for the liquid ingredients. Put the yeast in the well, add the sugar, the eggs, the mixed peel, vanilla paste, the oil, and the milk. Mix the ingredients gently with a spoon, then remove a third of the mixture for the cocoa dough.
Knead the white dough for a 6-7 minutes in the stand mixer. Leave it to rest on the floured worktop. Put the remaining dough in the bowl for mixing. Add the cocoa and Rum flavour and knead it for 6 minutes. Place the dough near the white one. Cover them with a tea towel and leave it to prove for an hour. The dough is ready when it’s doubled in size.
Now is time to make the loafs. Cut half of the white dough and flatten it on the floured worktop using only the hands. Do the same with half of the cocoa dough and put it on top of the white one.
The Turkish delight is easier to cut into pieces if the knife is floured with icing sugar. Scatter half of the pieces of Turkish delight and nuts, leaving a small gap in the middle. Cut the dough in two and roll each piece. Be careful not to have Turkish delight getting through the dough, as it can burn while baking and it will become bitter. Make a plait with the two strands of dough. That is your first cozonac. Put the loafs in an oiled bread baking tin. Do the same with the rest of the dough.
Cover the cozonaci (plural of cozonac) with a tea towel and leave it to prove for 45 minutes. The dough should almost double in size, again. Brush the loafs with egg wash and sprinkle some sugar on top. The cozonac loafs are ready for baking.
Preheat the oven at 180C or 160C fan. Bake the loafs for 40 to 50 minutes. You can turn the loafs after 30 minutes, so they bake evenly. Take them out of the oven and out of the baking tray. Leave them to cool on a cooling rack before serving.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe.