Kozunak: Bulgarian Easter Bread

Sweet bread
milanfoto / Getty Images
  • Total: 90 mins
  • Prep: 60 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 2 loaves (serves 25-30)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
129 Calories
6g Fat
14g Carbs
3g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 loaves (serves 25-30)
Amount per serving
Calories 129
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 67mg 22%
Sodium 83mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 3g
Calcium 47mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This Bulgarian Easter bread recipe known as kozunak is also served at Christmas and for other special occasions. Some cooks braid their bread, while others braid it and then form it into a round mold.

Bread is an important part of religious rituals in Eastern Europe and this bread, which appears at the table on what is considered the holiest day of the year -- Easter -- is a prime example.

Kozunak is a slightly sweet yeast-raised bread with raisins that crosses the line between bread and coffee cake. Some versions feature a topping of sliced almonds, but that is purely regional and optional.


  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 3/4 cup scalded milk (cooled to 110 F)
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 1 lemon (zested and juiced)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces butter (melted)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the yeast, sugar, egg, and milk. Let stand, covered, in a warm place for 40 minutes.

  3. Place the raisins, rum, and lemon zest and juice in a small bowl to soak.

  4. Heat the milk and sugar in a small saucepan until warm and set aside.

  5. Combine the butter and oil in a small bowl and set aside.

  6. Separate 2 of the 5 eggs, reserving the yolks for the egg wash and beating the whites with the other 3 whole eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a separate small bowl.

  7. Begin adding the warm milk mixture, followed by the butter-oil mixture, eggs, and drained raisins to the yeast mixture, combining until well mixed.

  8. Add the flour (you might not use all of it) and salt, and knead until a smooth dough results. It will be sticky.

  9. Transfer to a large oiled bowl, turning dough once to coat both sides. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 to 2 hours.

  10. Punch down dough and let rise again, covered, for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

  11. Punch down dough and knead for 1 or 2 minutes.

  12. Divide in half and then split each half into 3 pieces and braid on parchment-lined sheet pans.

  13. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise about 30 minutes.

  14. Brush with reserved egg yolks and sliced almonds, if using.

  15. Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 190 F.

  16. Remove from oven, remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

  17. Serve and enjoy!