the dose is for 2 pieces of kozunak*
(I use a deep round cake mold with 23 cm diameter + 1 rectangular deep baking tray, 23/11cm)
This recipe is very successful. I adapted it from my mother’s (adding filling). With it, you can improvise – marmalades, raisins in rum … either skip it completely and get a classic version of kozunak (my advice is to be careful with baking, do not let it get dry and shriveled). Here’s an idea of how to make two different types of kozunak of the same dough – the rectangular will be filled and the round one – plain.
for the dough:
50 g fresh yeast
350 g sugar
2 cups fresh milk, warm
100 g lard, melted
lemon flavor to taste
6 eggs, beaten
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp mahleb/mahalepi (optional, matches well with kozunak; I put more because the dose is big – for 2 pieces of kozunak);
the juice of 1 lemon
9 cups flour, sifted (that’s about 1,300 kg)
for the filling of the rectangular kozunak (I knit it out of 3 strands):
- for the 1st strand, the filling consists of: 2 big handfuls of crushed walnuts + sugar for sprinkling;
- for the 2nd and 3rd strands: 2 large handfuls of crushed walnuts + 4 tbsps sugar + 2 tbsps cocoa powder + 4-5 tbsps fresh milk (everything is mixed and this is my ready filling for the two strands);
for the decoration of the kozunak:
1 beaten egg for spreading
coarse sugar for sprinkling
almond flakes for sprinkling
Dissolve yeast in 2/3 from the warm fresh milk. Sprinkle with sugar and wait for it to activate.
Mix the remaining warm milk with the rest of the sugar.
Pour the sifted flour into a large bowl and make a well in the middle where you add the ready yeast mixture. Add the eggs, the sugar and milk mixture, and all other dough products (the salt is on the periphery and is not in touch with the yeast, the lard is added into bits during kneading, not all at once).
The ready-knead dough is soft. I leave it to rise. Then put it on a previously greased surface. I divide it into 2 parts, for 2 pieces of kozunak (the round one will be slightly larger than the other).
I start with shaping of the rectangular kozunak. The dough intended for it, I divide into 3 balls. With greased fingers on a greased surface, I roll out 3 rectangular phyllo sheets, 0.5 cm thick (by hand or with a rolling pin). Sprinkle them evenly with the filling, as one of the rolled strands I sprinkle only with walnuts and sugar (gently press them to the dough) and the two other strands I sprinkle with the cocoa mixture.
Roll each phyllo sheet into a thin, long roll – again to become on strands. I couple the strands well at the one end and weave a classical braid. I tuck in and smooth the end (see the pictures/the video)**. Place the braid in a rectangular tray on previously greased baking paper. Spread it with an egg and sprinkle with sugar and almond flakes. It raises a second time.
Bake at 200ᴼC in a preheated oven. 10 minutes after start of baking, I lower the temperature to 180ᴼC. If the upper crust is getting roasted too fast, cover it with wet baking paper or aluminum foil. Bake until ready (depends on the dish and the oven). If you overdo with baking, the kozunak becomes very dry.
For the round (bigger) kozunak, I do not use any filling. I leave it in its classic version. The difference with the rectangular one is that I weave it differently – dividing the dough into 6 balls, from which I shape 6-strand braid (see the pictures/the video – 2.18 min.)**. After weaving, I place it in a circular deep round mold on previously greased baking paper. Again, I spread an egg and sprinkle with sugar. It raises a second time. Baking process is the same as with the rectangular one. This kozunak has a very spectacular authentic look because of the way it is woven.
The room in which you will be kneading should be warm. The products are at room temperature.
The sugar/flour ratio should be: 250 g sugar per 1 kg flour (approximately). Try to stick to it. Do not add too much sugar. This will spoil the texture and prevent the formation of the desired threads. Also, keep in mind that if you add filling, it is sweet enough (marmalade, candied walnuts etc.).
Do not underestimate the fact that the dough should raise twice.
Weaving of the strands is highly recommended. Rolling out/extension of strands further contributes to the so-called “threads” effect for kozunak.
Take a look at the photos of the kozunak with the lace ribbon. They show an easy and yet very effective way of weaving, and the kozunak looks great after baking. You can use this braid for any type of kozunak dough.
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