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Kozunak/Cozonac (Easter Bread) Recipe

Kozunak/Cozonac (Easter Bread) Recipe

Kozuna, also known as Cozonac or Easter Bread, is a traditional sweet bread popular in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Albania and Moldova. Its ingredients include flour, eggs, milk, sugar, yeast, citrus, rum, raisins and butter or oil. All of the ingredients except the raisins are mixed into a dough.

The dough is left to rise several times and kneaded in between rises. While the dough is being prepared, the raisins are soaked in the rum. The raisins are later spread over the dough which is usually braided before baking.

Traditionally, Kozunak was baked once a year for Easter which marks the end of lent when abstinence from eating meat is practiced for 40 days. The bread would be baked on the Friday or Saturday then taken to church on the Saturday evening.

It was eaten on Sunday, the official end of lent, together with other Easter staples like dyed boiled eggs and lamb. Bulgarian Easter is called Velikden or Great day.

Origin & Cultural Significance

The origin of Kozunak is unknown. There is some trace of Kozunak recipes in UK cookbooks circa 1700, although many believe it probably originated from ancient Egypt where honey, herbs and fruit were used to flavor bread.

Kozunak often gets credited as a Bulgarian bread; however it is just as popular in Romania where it is called Cozonac. It is also enjoyed in Serbia, Albania and Moldova.

Kozunak wrapped into a wreath

Kozunak/Cozonac (Easter Bread)

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 6 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes

Kozunak, or Cozonac, is a traditional sweet bread popular in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Albania and Moldova.


  • Yeast - 2 ½ Tbsp
  • Sugar - 1 ½ Tbsp
  • Salt - 1 ½ tsp
  • Egg, beaten lightly - 1
  • Milk - 1 1/3 cup
  • Raisins - 1 ½ cups
  • Rum - ¾ cups
  • Lemon - 2
  • Flour - 5 lbs
  • Butter - ½ cup
  • Vegetable oil - ½ cup
  • Milk - 2 cups
  • Sugar - 2 cups
  • Eggs - 11
  • Vanilla extract - 2 tsp
  • Hazelnuts or walnuts - 1 cup


  1. Mix the first five ingredients (yeast, small amount sugar, salt, beaten egg, warm milk) in a large bowl.
  1. Cover and leave in a warm place for 40 minutes.
  2. Cover raisins with rum and set aside to soak.
  3. Grate then juice the lemons, set aside.
  4. Sift 4 of the five pounds of flour onto a large tray or other work surface.
  5. Melt butter and combine with oil.
  6. Heat 2 cups of milk and sugar on low in a small saucepan until warm.
  7. Separate 4 of the eggs and set aside the 4 yolks for brushing
  8. Beat the whites of the 4 eggs with the remaining 7 whole eggs.
  9. Add a handful of the flour from the work surface to the warm yeast mixture.
  10. Bit by bit, using a spoon, add and mix the rest of the flour, the milk mixture, the beaten eggs and the butter/oil mixture.
  11. When most of it is together, mix in the lemon juice, zest and the vanilla.
  12. Add more flour to the work surface, if necessary, dump out the dough and knead until it holds together well.
  13. Let the dough rest in a warm place until doubled in bulk (1-2 hours). You may need to divide between two bowls.
  14. Punch the dough down and knead it some more.
  15. Drain the raisins and dredge them in flour.
  16. Work about half of them into the dough as you knead, a few at a time.
  17. Let the dough sit and rise again (another 1-2 hours).
  18. Preheat oven to 425 (400 if your oven runs hot).
  19. Punch the dough down and knead again.
  20. Divide the dough into 8 parts.
  21. Each of these, divide into three parts; roll them long and braid into 8 loaves.
  22. While braiding, work the remainder of the raisins between the strands.
  23. Brush the loaves with the reserved egg yolk and stud the top with nuts.
  24. Bake the loaves about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1785Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 318mgSodium: 693mgCarbohydrates: 301gFiber: 11gSugar: 76gProtein: 45g

Nutrition is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. It is for general information purposes and is only a rough estimation.

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