Romanian Sweet Bread or Cozonac, our traditional dessert for Easter, Christmas or any other important celebration. It can be as simple or as rich in fillings as one likes, and it’s just heavenly delicious. Similar in taste and texture to the Italian Pannetone or the French Brioche Bread, this sweet bread might need double proving, but the effort is well worth it.
Every country has its own traditional food that is cherished and enjoyed either on special occasions, or on a daily basis. Some desserts are best enjoyed depending on the season, where others are great all year around. Our Cozonac is every housewife’s pride; making the best, fluffiest, tastiest sweet bread is not quite a piece of cake. But it’s certainly doable.
There are thousands of sweet bread recipes out there, some simple, with just cocoa and walnut filling, others that also use Turkish delight, raisins, poppy seeds, you name it.
The process of making Romanian sweet bread is fairly simple, but you do need to keep in mind that there are best conditions to be met in order to make a good cozonac. Let’s see what these conditions are!
Tips for making the best Romanian Sweet Bread or Cozonac
There are a number of reasons why a cozonac is not as well-risen, fluffy and tasty as you hoped. But these rules will certainly help you get great results every single time:
- make sure the kitchen is warm
The sweet bread is temperature-sensitive, the dough will not rise the way you expect if the room is cold, which means the cozonac will be too dense, rather than fluffy.
- all the ingredients must be at room temperature
Eggs and butter must be taken out of the fridge at least one hour before you start making the dough.
- the milk has to be warm, but not hot
I microwaved mine for about 60 seconds, and that was more than enough.
- if you use fast-action dried yeast, you must check if it’s still active, but adding it to the warm milk together with a bit of sugar and flour
It it rises nicely and becomes foamy in about 10-15 minutes, that’s great.
- once the dough has been left to double it’s size, roll it, add the filling, then roll it into a big sausage, transfer to a bread tin, and leave to rise again
The dough will rise further in the oven, but a good cozonac should be well risen above the bread tin, so double proofing is crucial.
- brush the sweet bread with egg before baking it, that will give it a nice crust
- bake it on the middle rack, rather than the top oven rack, otherwise the top will be done too quickly, while the middle is still raw
How to make the filling for the cozonac
There are two ways, you can choose whatever you like better. You can either beat one egg white and add the cocoa powder, sugar and chopped walnuts to it, or just use the dry ingredients without egg white.
I chose the fist option, where I beat the egg white with sugar until it held stiff peaks, then I added the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and walnuts to it.
Once the dough is ready and rolled, spread the filling over, making sure you leave plenty of room around the edges, otherwise it overflows when you roll it back.
If you add any other ingredients, like raisins or turkish delight, just spread them all over before rolling the dough.
How long TO bake the sweet bread for
The Romanian sweet bread is baked at 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahreneheit) for 45 minutes. Looking for more traditional Romanian treat for Easter? Our Romanian Easter Bread or Pasca is similar to this sweet bread, but it’s filled with a cow’s cheese and raisins filling.
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Romanian Sweet Bread or Cozonac, our traditional dessert for Easter, Christmas or any other important celebration. It can be as simple or as rich in fillings as one likes, and it's just heavenly delicious. Similar in taste and texture to the Italian Pannetone or the French Brioche Bread, this sweet bread might need double proving, but the effort is well worth it. Common fillings are cocoa powder, walnuts, raisins and Turkish delight.
- 400 g strong white bread flour
- 3 egg yolks
- 85 g sugar
- 250 ml full-fat milk
- 75 g butter, soften
- 2 tsp dry fast-action yeast
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp lemon extract
- a pinch of salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp finely chopped walnuts
- 1 egg to brush the sweet bread
- a handful of raising
- a handful of Turkish delight
To make the dough, warm up the milk, add a tablespoon of flour, one tablespoon of sugar and the yeast to it.
Give it a stir, then set aside for 10-15 minutes until frothy and well risen.
Beat the soft butter with the sugar, and add the egg yolks.
Sift the flour, add the butter mixture, the yeast mixture, lemon zest and extract and a pinch of salt.
Knead well into a dough for at least 5-10 minutes, we need the dough to be elastic and easy to shape into a ball.
Add more flour if necessary.
Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel, then leave to proof for 2 hours or until it doubles its size.
To make the filling, beat the egg white with sugar until it holds stiff peaks. There is no need to use all the egg white, about half of it should do.
Add the cocoa powder, vanilla extract. walnuts, raising and Turkish delight cut into small pieces.
Roll the dough the spread the filling, leaving the edges clear, so the dough can be rolled back into a sausage.
Grease a bread tin well, add the dough, and leave to rise again, for at least another hour or so.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit).
Beat the whole egg, and brush some all over the top of the dough.
Bake on the middle rack for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Remove from the oven, leave to cool, then run a sharp knife around the edges, it should come out easily.
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