Cozonac Moldovenesc

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Food / Food - International / Uncategorized

IMG_7666Ah, the Romanian sweet bread. A caloric bomb, eaten in my family just on Easter time, a recipe that represents hard work, stress and family unity. Yeah, the joy of Cozonac. Also comes with stomach ache while eaten in large quantities. Also kudos to grandma who gave me the tray you see in the image! Not to mention BIG thanks to my parents for video assisting me, living with the same intensity as I was, encouraging me like I was some sort of athlete on the edge of winning. Thanks mum, dad, what would I do without you?

But with no further due, shall we proceed since I have a feeling this blog post will be a loooong one.

So, the first thing you know about Cozonac is that is a heavily on sugar/butter sweet bread, filled with walnuts, cocoa, Turkish delight and raisins. Traditionally.

The recipe is more or less similar to the Mucenici Moldovenesti so if you tried that, you can pretty much nail this one too.

For the sweet bread you’ll need:

  • 1 kg flour
  • 5 egg yolks (room temperature)
  • 200 grams butter (room temperature)
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 packages dried yeast
  • lemon zest from one lemon
  • vanilla essence
  • 1 litre milk (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 300 grams sugar
  • 100 ml vegetable oil

For the filling(s):

  • 350 grams walnuts
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • vanilla essence
  • 5 egg whites
  • 100 grams sugar
  • alcohol soaked raisins
  • 350 grams Turkish delight
  • 200 grams dried apricots

Told you, pure caloric bomb.

METHOD:

  1. in a medium sized bowl make the poolish by adding the yeast together with 1 tsp sugar, 3-4 tbsp lukewarm milk and 2-3 tbsp flour – se aside for 15 minutes or up until it doubles in size;
  2. boil a cup of milk;
  3. in another bowl, add 2-3 tbsp of flour and pour that hot milk on top of it; stir and do not worry about the lumps; set aside and let it cool up until it reaches the same temperature as your finger;
  4. when cooled, add the poolish to the flour-milk mixture and allow it to rest again until doubled in size;
  5. while the second poolish is rising, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and save the latter for later;
  6. with the help of a hand mixer beat in the egg yolks and 100 grams of sugar until it’s pale yellow and doubled in size;
  7. the rest of the sugar (200 grams) will be added in a sauce pan with 100 ml milk and the lemon zest on low heat until the sugar dissolves;
  8. in a big bowl, add the flour, the salt, the vinegar and the vanilla essence;
  9. make a well in the middle and add: the poolish, the egg mixture and the milk mixture;
  10. at this point you should have left on the table just the room temperature butter, milk and oil;
  11. also at this point it will be better to get some help;
  12. start kneading – this time by hand only, no mixer – slowly adding the warm milk into the mixture; depending on your flour, you might use the whole 3 cups of milk, or less; the key here is to achieve a soft, smooth and wet dough that doesn’t stick to you hands;
  13. this procedure should be exactly 10 minutes, where you constantly knead and add a little milk at a time until you reach that perfect dough;
  14. after those 10 minutes, it is time for the butter to get in; keep half of it at room temperature and half melted; slowly add the whole butter in by constantly kneading; this step should be around 15 minutes of constantly kneading and adding the butter; you should also start sweating by now.
  15. on a clean oiled surface, smash the dough 5 times by pull and stretch method;
  16. bring the dough back to the bowl and slowly add the oil in, by kneading for another 15 more minutes;
  17. again, smash for 5 more times and eventually allow the dough to rest for one hour in a warm, draft free environment;
  18. clean your sweat away and enjoy yourself a glass of wine because we’re not done;

THE FILLING:

  1. in a bowl, add 150 grams of raisins and soak them in alcohol of your choice;
  2. grind the walnuts and set aside;
  3. in a bowl, add the egg whites and with the help of a hand mixer beat it up by slowly adding the sugar to it;
  4. in a big bowl add the ground walnuts, the cocoa powder, vanilla essence and the egg whites;
  5. slowly fold in the egg whites into the mixture;
  6. set aside;
  7. cut the Turkish delight and the dried fruits in equal size small cubes;
  8. set aside;

THE BRAIDING:

  1. take the dough out and divide it into 4 equal parts;
  2. prepare your baking trays with baking paper and butter on top;
  3. on a large, very oiled surface start spreading your dough like it’s a pizza;
  4. add all of the cocoa mixture on top of it making sure you cover all the surface;
  5. gently start rolling everything in, making sure the dough doesn’t break;
  6. once the first roll is done, set aside;
  7. spread another ball of dough and add all of the the dried alcohol soaked raisins on top of it;
  8. roll it as you did with the other one and intertwine them by using short, quick and precise movements; remember, the dough is soft, there is a lot of filling so you have to move quick in order not to achieve a disaster;
  9. once you have a braided sweet bread loaf, add it to the pan by grabbing it like a newborn baby; make sure you hold the head and the butt of the Cozonac;
  10. take another ball of dough, spread it, and add the Turkish delight on top of it; roll and set aside;
  11. spread the last ball of dough, add the dried fruits on top, roll and intertwine with the other roll;
  12. add it to the other pan;
  13. allow the loaves to rise for another hour, covered with a towel, in a warm, draft free environment;
  14. 30 minutes before they are done with the second rising, preheat the oven at 150° C;
  15. beat an egg with a little bit of milk and brush it on top of the loaves;
  16. add it to the oven for 10 minutes at 150° C, increasing the temperature at 180° C until they pass the tooth pick test;

And phwhew, YOU’RE DONE!!!! 

IMG_7669

Have another glass of wine and be happily exhausted now because you truly deserve it.

Have a Happy Romanian Easter,

V.

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