Cozonac

Ok, so I am a pagan, which means I technically don’t celebrate the Christian Easter, but since it is based on a pagan holiday (Ostara, hence the name) I decided to bake a Romanian Easter Bread,

Scald the milk and add some of the flour.

Then heat 1/2 cup milk and add the yeast.  Add the flour paste. Let rise for 15 minutes.

Mix the flour, the sugar, 1/4 cup milk, egg youls, raisins, zest and the yeast mixture.

Knead, while adding the butter. Then add the vanilla, the rum and the oil. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Prepare the filling by grinding the walnuts (or almonds in my case), boil with the sugar and the milk.

Once the dough has doubled, knead again and fill as you like. Then shape in a braid or in any other way you like. Then let rise again.

Once it’s doubled, set to bake.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons + 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup +1/2 cup + 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 4 ounces light or dark raisins
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 ounces melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 ounce walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Scald 1/2 cup milk and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons flour until smooth. Let cool 10 minutes.
  2. Heat another 1/2 cup milk just until lukewarm. Do not scald. Place yeast in a small bowl and pour lukewarm milk over, stirring until dissolved. Add yeast mixture to flour paste and beat until large air bubbles appear. Cover and let rise at least 15 minutes.
  3. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup milk to lukewarm. Do not overheat. Pour into a warmed large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Add, stirring after each ingredient, the egg yolks, sugar, raisins, zest, yeast mixture and flour. Knead about 10 minutes by machine or 15-20 minutes with buttered hands while still in the bowl, adding butter as necessary to achieve a nonsticky, pliable, moist ball of dough. It will probably take about 3 ounces of butter. Save the rest.
  4. Add rum, vanilla and oil and knead another 2-3 minutes. Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. Punch down and with hands dipped in some of the reserved melted butter, knead another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10- to 12-inch round pan that is at least 3 inches deep with cooking spray. Using buttered hands, twist the dough and place in the pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until dough reaches the top of the pan.
  6. Mix 1 large egg yolk with 1 tablespoon cold water and brush top of dough. Sprinkle walnuts and a few raisins on the dough, if desired. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick tests clean or an instant-read thermometer registers 190 degrees.
  7. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. If you wish, while the cake is still hot, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and walnuts.
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