Cozonac: Romanian Easter and Christmas Bread

A loaf of Romanian cozonac bread sliced to reveal the swirled interior
Romanian Cozonac. Vvssmmaann / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-4.0
  • Total: 95 mins
  • Prep: 35 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
924 Calories
46g Fat
113g Carbs
18g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 924
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 46g 59%
Saturated Fat 21g 107%
Cholesterol 306mg 102%
Sodium 532mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 113g 41%
Dietary Fiber 5g 16%
Protein 18g
Calcium 315mg 24%
*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.)

Romanian cozonac is a slightly sweet yeast-raised egg bread, similar to houska, that is traditionally eaten for Easter, Christmas, and New ​Years. Bulgarians call this bread kozunak. It's considered the Italian panettone of the Romanians. When the cozonac dough is filled with farmer's cheese, it becomes a pasca, similar to a Polish kołacz.

This recipe calls for egg yolks only so freeze the leftover egg whites and save them for a recipe like this meringue torte.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus 2 1/2 tablespoons, separated)
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 4 large egg yolks (at room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (superfine)
  • 4 ounces raisins (light or dark)
  • 1 lemon (zest only)
  • 4 ounces butter (melted)
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 large egg yolk (at room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Optional: 1 ounce walnuts
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon raisins
  • Optional: 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Scald 1/2 cup of the milk and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons of the flour until smooth. Let cool 10 minutes.

  3. Heat another 1/2 cup of the milk just until lukewarm. Do not scald. Place yeast in a small bowl and pour lukewarm milk over, stirring until dissolved.

  4. Add yeast mixture to the cooled milk-flour paste and beat until large air bubbles appear.

  5. Cover and let rise at least 15 minutes.

  6. 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 the egg yolks, sugar, raisins, zest, yeast mixture, and the remaining 3 1/2 cups flour, stirring after each addition.

  7. Knead about 10 minutes by machine or 15 to 20 minutes with buttered hands while still in the bowl, adding some melted butter as necessary to achieve a nonsticky, pliable, moist ball of dough. It will probably take about 3 ounces of the melted butter. Save the rest.

  8. Add rum, vanilla, and oil and knead another 2 to 3 minutes.

  9. Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.

  10. Punch down and, with hands dipped in some of the remaining 1 ounce of melted butter, knead another 5 to 10 minutes.

  11. Heat oven to 350 F.

  12. Coat a 10- to 12-inch round pan that is at least 3 inches deep or a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Using buttered hands, twist the dough and place in the pan.

  13. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until dough reaches the top of the pan.

  14. Brush top of dough with egg wash (1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water). Sprinkle with optional walnuts and raisins, if desired.

  15. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick tests clean or an instant-read thermometer registers 190 F.

  16. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. If you wish, while the cake is still hot, sprinkle with optional confectioners' sugar.

  17. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

  18. Enjoy!