How to make Bulgarian Kozunak

For those of you who like to cook other country’s cuisine, like my Instagram friend Claudia, here I have something that’s definitely worth to try. We have never met with her yet, but hey friendships have no boundaries after all! This is how we actually “met” – she posted a picture of Bulgarian pita and I was fascinated that she has made that bread just from a recipe that had found online. That was a few years ago.
Many people call this “sweet bread” which is actually very similar to Italian sweet bread if you have ever tried. We usually bake this treat for Easter, it’s a traditional Easter bread and we enjoy eating it for a couple of days during the holidays.
I have tried a few different recipes and different proportions of the ingredients to finally make my own version which corresponds to what I imagine when I think of Kozunak.
The main goal when you bake it is to develop the protein and to achieve a certain texture which we call – stringy Kozunak. Whoever manage to do that gets applauded by everyone and it is considered a master chef of the making of Kozunak.
In order to achieve that, you have to knead the dough for at least 20 minutes and to have the right proportions of sugar and fat in the bread. Too much sugar can definitely eliminate any strings, no matter how hard and for how long you have kneaded. It also matters if you’re using sunflower oil or butter. I found out that using sunflower oil makes it dry and not tasty, but using butter makes the difference and have the opposite effect. I must say that everyone has a different opinion and like to use different ingredients and methods, some even say that you can make it without kneading and still have the same result, but if you decide to trust me and try the recipe I promise you won’t regret.
There are a few crucial points that you really need to be careful with: The most important is not to kill the yeast with too hot milk, after that to allow as much time as needed for proofing, to knead no less than 20 minutes and not to exceed the quantity of sugar. Trust me I had made all of the mistakes 😀

Some people prefer it extra sweet that’s why I added the jam inside. But don’t put too much because while baking the dough squeezes the jam all over the baking tray. It’s like sticky lava jam.
Enjoy while watching the video and use the ingredients below, if you want to give it a try!

630 g. Strong white flour
2 egg whites at room temperature
10 egg yolks
150 g. white sugar + extra for dusting
125 g. butter at room temperature
pinch of salt
125 ml. lukewarm whole milk
1/2 vanilla pod
7 g dry yeast (preferably use 10 g. fresh yeast if you can find)
First, start with activating the yeast by mixing it with a bit of the milk and a tablespoon of sugar. Use about 130 g. of the flour as a starter and mix with the yeast and the rest of the milk. Let it proof until it becomes spongy. Preheat a bit the rest of the flour in a microwave. Mix the egg yolks and sugar together until well combined and lighter in colour. Then in a separate clean and dry bowl beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until stiff peaks. Make a well in the center of the flour and add all the mixtures and the vanilla. Knead together and make the dough. Then gradually start adding the butter while continue kneading. Knead for about half an hour or 30 minutes, whatever sounds easier for you, LOL, because lots of people find this part unpleasant. Trust me it can be therapeutic if you need to relieve stress.
Let the dough to proof preferably for 2 hours or until it doubles it’s size. Mostly that process depends on how warm it is in your room at that moment. After that let the air out of the dough and start to shape as shown in the video.
Good luck!