By: Veronica Moldovan
Every year around the month of December, my grandmother always prepares my favourite dessert: “cozonac”. It is a Romanian dessert that looks like bread, but is considered a cake (it is also a Bulgarian traditional cake; they call it “kozunak”). A similar, but different cake is the panettone (Italian Christmas cake).
There is no special occasion without cozonac in Romanian culture, and you are sure to see a lot more around the holidays. It is a traditional cake. You need to have a lot of patience and know how to prepare this cake. It takes some time. It is made with flour, milk, sugar, eggs, salt, and butter. There are many shapes of cozonac; they can be rectangular, round, simple or interlaced, but the dough is the same. You can either fill it with nuts, chocolate, walnuts, raisins, Turkish delight, sweet cheese, marmalade, sweet dried fruits or all of those ingredients mixed together. From a personal point of view, it is better with nuts or walnuts only.
What I love about cozonac is that you can eat it with any meal; for breakfast and dessert, for lunch and/or supper or just as a snack - a very delicious one. It has a great smell and an amazing taste. There’s nothing better than a hot slice of cozonac and milk.
- 1½ cup of sugar
- 5 cups of flour
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 6 eggs
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¾ cups of butter
- 2-3 tablespoons of oil
- 2 cups of walnuts
- ½ cup of rum flavouring
- ¾ cup of milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 cup of sugar
The dough: First separate the eggs, keeping the egg yolks and whites in two separate bowls. Warm the milk in a small pan over medium heat. When warm, take out 3 tablespoons of milk and leave the rest heating up. Put 3 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl or container. Add the yeast, a tablespoon of sugar and a little amount of flour. Mix everything until it becomes a thick cream to proof the yeast. Cover the bowl of dough and set it aside for 5 minutes.
When the milk starts to boil, remove it from the stove. Add vanilla and mix it well. Put it aside. In a large bowl, add the sugar, egg yolks and salt, and mix everything together. While stirring, add the warm milk to the large bowl mixing it well. Then stir in the yeast mixture and add 3 egg whites. Gradually add the rest of the flour until it forms a dough, using all the flour.
Take the dough and put it on a lightly floured surface and knead. Put the stove at a medium flame and in a small pan, start melting the butter and stirring the oil together. Once it is melted, remove the butter mixture from the stove. Slowly add the mixture of warm butter and oil to the dough until it starts forming bubbles and comes off the hands easily (this will take around 30 minutes). Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise in a place where there will be no current of air and where it is warm until it has doubled or tripled in bulk.
Grease a loaf or baking pan(s). When the dough has risen, after 1 to 2 hours, form the dough to the shape of the loaf pan (If desired, you may add a filling-see the nut filling below. You must add the filing before putting in the oven). Let the dough rise for at least 30 minutes. Before baking, use a brush and add the remaining egg white to the top of the dough (if you have none left you can beat an extra egg and add it to the top of the dough). Set the oven at a medium to high temperature (350-400°F). Let it bake for 30 to 45 minutes. When cooked, take out the cozonac from the oven and pan, let it cool down on the counter.
Nut filling: Begin by crushing the walnuts into small pieces. Heat the sugar, milk and vanilla over a medium flame, in a small pan until the sugar has dissolved. Add the nuts while mixing (mix well so that the nuts won’t stick to the bottom of the pan). Let the mixture boil for 1 minute, stirring it constantly. The consistency should feel like a paste. Remove the pan from the stove. Add the rum flavouring to the mixture. Once it has cooled down, roll out the cozonac dough and spread the nut mixture over the surface. Roll the dough back up and shape it to the size of the baking pan.
Sadly, we had trouble translating this recipe into English. My aunt and I found this recipe at http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=286579 which is very similar to the one she has.