Cozonac: Romanian Festive Sweet Eggbread

People who looooove artisan bread in five minutes a day, raise your hand! Oh, it might be easier to have people who *don’t* like it raise their hands. Just like I thought: not too many hands, eh? What’s not to love, I wonder: wonderfully flavourful bread that comes out of an easily workable dough which takes minutes to make and stores 4evah in the fridge or freezer.

Case in point: Romanian traditional festive sweet eggbread, called “cozonac,” which people enjoy especially at Easter and Christmas, or on other festive occasions. And that’s not because it’s not good, but rather because the dough takes so much work, women (I haven’t heard of any man making it) actually wake up before the crack of dawn to get it going.

Enter artisan bread… to save the day: their brioche dough works wonders with the traditional recipe. Especially since there’s no uniform traditional recipe. Like with all culinary traditions, every family has its own, not written down but passed on down from grandmother to mother to daughter to granddaughter.

The filling, just like the dough is a matter of family tradition or taste, or whatever you have on hand. I took liberties here because the filling has always been my favourite thing. I always thought that the cozonac was way too much about the dough and not enough about the filling. My Mama never made it, so when I asked other people, I was told that the dough wouldn’t rise with too much filling in it. Problem solved with this dough! Did I mention how much I loved it?

Brioche dough from Arisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day:

Ingredients (4 1-lb loaves):

  • 1.5 cups lukewarm water (not warmer than body temperature)
  • 1.5 Tbsp granulated yeast
  • 1.5 Tbsp salt
  • 8 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1.5 cups (3 sticks) melted unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 7.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water)

What to do:

  1. Mix yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter with the water in a 5 liter bowl.
  2. Mix in flour without kneading. Make sure you incorporate all flour. The dough will be loose, but will firm up once chilled.
  3. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.
  4. Dough can be used right away or stored in a covered (not airtight) container in the fridge for up to 5 days. For longer storage, divide the dough in 1 lb portions and freeze in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. To use frozen dough, defrost in fridge overnight.
  5. Bake dough in whatever form (loaf, brioche, cozonac) in the preheated oven at 350 F for 35 to 40 minutes (until golden brown) with the rack in the middle position.

Cozonac filling

Ingredients (for 1 lb dough):

  • 200 g walnuts
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (whites and yolks to be used separately)
  • 2-3 Tbsp good cocoa
  • 50 ml Grand Marnier, cognac, or brandy
  • 1 cup raisins to be plumped in the liquour
  • 100g Turkish delight (optional) cut into 1 cm pieces.

What to do:

  1. Plump raisins in Grand Marnier for cca. 30 mins.
  2. Beat egg whites to soft peaks.
  3. Add sugar, beat.
  4. Add cocoa, beat.
  5. Add walnuts and the Grand Marnier with the raisins and mix by hand.
  6. Cut Turkish delight into small (1 cm/half inch) pieces.
  7. Divide dough into 2 parts.
  8. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece of dough in turn until it’s about 1 cm thick or less.
  9. Spread mixture over evenly leaving 1-2 cm at each edge.
  10. Spread Turkish delight.
  11. Roll into a log.
  12. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  13. Butter two pans and put the rolls in each.
  14. Let rest for 40 minutes.
  15. Paint with egg yolks.
  16. Put in oven and bake for 45 mins. Start checking for doneness around 35 mins.

Enjoy the supreme yumminess!

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8 responses to “Cozonac: Romanian Festive Sweet Eggbread

  1. 1/2 honey? 1/2 tsp? 1/2 tblsp? This sounds wonderful!

  2. I do like the book but haven’t made nearly enough out of it yet. My grandmother always made poppyseed and nut bread like this, we’re Slovak. I really like your filling with the cocoa in it. Great idea! I have to save it to try at Easter.

  3. Patti, thank you for catching the omission: it’s half a cup. I updated the recipe. Half honey doesn’t really help, now, does it?
    I know, Maggie, I have the same problem. I made only of few of their doughs and I keep staying with them. I’m trying hard to get out of my rut, though.

  4. Wow! This looks fantastic! Thank you for sharing your recipe, I will give it a try.

    I’m so glad you are enjoying the book! 🙂

    Happy Baking, Zoë François (co-author Artisan Bread in Five)

  5. OMG! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Saw these pics on your flicker acct. but no recipe, and thought you were just playing a tease! Can’t believe you posted these! My Rom. husband will be totally surprised AND delighted, and guess what I have all the ingredients in my pantry!

  6. Thanks, Zoe. And thank you for the wonderful recipes in the book, too. Can’t wait for your next one.
    Emii, I’m so glad you found this recipe useful. If your husband would like the cozonac more doughy, you can use the given amount of filling for a whole pound of dough. You’ll get a puffier, more traditional cozonac that way. Let me know how it goes.

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  8. So I decided to try this recipe. I am very familiar with making cozonac but I can’t seem to get this dough right because it is WAY too soft. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

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