How to make a fluffy and sweet Easter bread
The traditional Bulgarian recipe that my family has been using for generations, for exactly 100 years this Easter
A simple guide for an easily made goodness
Before we start, this is my very first post on FoodTribe and I want to dedicate it to Lucy Brown for sharing her secret for a fluffy homemade bread, and also to Jane Fyffe for being very welcoming, and supportive!
Right, let's get down to respecting traditions. The Orthodox Easter is tomorrow and the holiday traditions are about the same as the Catholic Easter - sweet bread and painted eggs. Everything needed to make it, plus a pinch of love for baking is below:
- 5 L-sized eggs (4 for the dough, one for the crust)
- 750 grams (26.45 ounces) of regular white flour
- 180 grams (6.35 ounces) of sugar
- 200 milliliters (6.76 oz) of milk, preferably full-fat
- 80 grams (2.82 ounces) of butter
- 80 milliliters (2.7 oz) of sunflower oil
- 1 fresh lemon (for zest only)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
- 2 pinches of salt
- 30 grams (1.05 ounces) of compressed baker's yeast
- 80 grams (2.82 ounces) of raisins (optional, but highly recommended)
You can make the dough mixing both by hand or with breadmaker
- The eggs must not be cold, so it's preferable to put them in a cup of hot water (not boiling) for 10-15 minutes, until they would reach slightly above ambient temperature. Same goes for the milk, get it on the stove and heat it above ambient. Also the butter should be melted.
- Now take a big bowl, get the sugar in first, then the milk and mix until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pop the yeast (cubes) in the bowl and dissolve it as well.
- Get the melted butter and add it in the mix, then add the sunflower oil.
- Now add the lemon zest from the whole lemon, the vanilla sugar and two pinches of salt.
- Get 4 out of the five eggs (one is needed at the end), scramble them gently and add them in the bowl
- Get the flour in by slowly sipping and mixing. At the end, you'll have to put your hands to work and mix the whole thing until you get a consistent dough.
- Mix the dough for 15-20 minutes, then leave it to rise for an hour. It must be left in a warm ambient temperature. I recommend putting a thick cloth over the ball while it sits, to keep it warm.
- After an hour of visible rising, get the dough out, cut it into three equal pieces, then use a rolling pin to stretch every piece (not too thin, it's not a pizza).
- Add the raisins equally into every stretched pieces, roll them in rolls by hand with the raisins preferably staying inside.
- Make your desired form with the three rolls, put the (almost) ready Kozunak back in the bowl, cover it again with a thick cloth to stay warm and leave it to rise more for another hour.
- When that second hour of rising passes, get a high-sidewalls baking tray that's visibly 20% larger than the Kozunak (it rises and spreads more when baking), put some baking paper to cover the bottom and the sides of the tray.
- Put the Kozunak in carefully, then get it in the preheated to 190 C (375 F) oven, on the lowest possible level, but not sitting on the bottom.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Get the extra egg left, separate only the yolk from it. Mix the yolk in a cup with one teaspoon of cold water.
- Get the Kozunak out of the oven after the initial 30 minutes, spread the yolk/water mix with a kitchen brush on the top. Spread a little sugar over it.
- Get it back in the oven and leave it for another 15 minutes.
- To check if it's baked properly, use a long wooden (tooth)pick - if there's a sticky dough on the pick when you get it out, then it needs more time to bake. It's ready when you get the pick in and out with nothing to stick to it.
Every liquid ingredient (except for the sunflower oil) in the mix should be above-ambient warm, but not boiling hot. That's the secret of a great, fluffy and tasty Kozunak!
My great-grandmother Tsveta
If you can't be bothered mixing dough
You can always take the lazy and less hands-on approach by using a breadmaker to mix the dough for you. I've used it for the first time today on that recipe and the result was exactly the same consistent dough as mixing it by hand. Just mix the ingredients in the bowl and when it's time to put the flour, empty the bowl into the breadmaker pan, put the flour on top and use the "Dough" program. Takes about the same time as mixing it by hand and letting it to rise - an hour and 30 minutes. It will not save you any time, but you will skip making the dough by hand.
As I said above - I'm rubbish at taking photos of food...
Hope you'll enjoy my family's recipe. It's a bit of a hassle, but the result is worth it. Share your results if you decide to try it and if you have any questions, feel free to DM me - I'll answer all of them as best as I can.