Kozunak: Bulgarian Easter Bread

Bulgarian Easter bread recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  • 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
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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.

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Optional: 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Bulgarian Easter bread
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  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.

    Yeast
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Place the raisins, rum, and lemon zest and juice in a small bowl to soak.

    Place raisins, rum
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Heat the milk and sugar in a small saucepan until warm and set aside.

    Heat the milk
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Combine the butter and oil in a small bowl and set aside.

    Combine butter and oil
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  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.

    Separate eggs
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  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.

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

    Mix dough
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  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.

    Transfer to bowl
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  10. Punch down dough and let rise again, covered, for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

    Punchdown dough
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  11. Punch down dough and knead for 1 or 2 minutes.

    Dough on board
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  12. Divide in half and then split each half into 3 pieces and braid on parchment-lined sheet pans.

    Braid dough
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  13. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise about 30 minutes.

    Cover with wrap
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  14. Brush with reserved egg yolks and sliced almonds, if using.

    Brush with egg yolk
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  15. Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 190 F.

    Bake bread
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  16. Remove from oven, remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

    Remove from oven
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  17. Serve and enjoy!

    Bulgarian Easter bread
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck