Cozonac (Romanian Easter Bread)

Cozonac (Romanian Easter Bread)

  • 10 hours cooking time
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1
Take out 50ml of milk and mix with the dry yeast and a tsp. of sugar, then leave to rest for 15 minutes. If you use fresh yeast, you can leave out the sugar.
2
In a large bowl, mix the flour with salt and sugar and then add the lemon and orange zest. Add the milk and yeast mixture and the remaining milk.
3
Crack the eggs and beat the whole eggs with the egg yolks. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract into the flour mixture and knead well. If using a dough kneading-machine, let it run for 10 minutes. Then add the soft butter little bit at the time until all is used up, and knead it into a nicely smooth but firm dough.
4
Leave to rise in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 6 hours.
5
The next day take the dough out and let it rest at room temperature.
6
For the filling, stir the butter cubes into the melted chocolate and add sugar, cinnamon and cacao powder. Mix until you have a smooth paste, then leave to cool down for about 10 minutes.
7
Butter the 2 rectangular baking tins.
8
Knead the dough on a floured kitchen counter. Divide the dough in 2, roll each piece of dough into a 30x40 centimetres rectangle and spread the chocolate filling evenly onto the whole surface of the dough. Sprinkle the almonds on top of the chocolate filling. Roll from shortest side into a sausage-like shape. Cut down the centre lengthwise and twist both parts together into a braid. Place the braid in a buttered baking tin and repeat the process with the other dough. Leave the tins in a warm place until the dough has risen to double its size (about 1 to 2 hours).
9
Bake at 175°C fan for 45-50 minutes. When the cozonac is golden brown on top, cover it with foil. Baking is done when the cozonac sounds hollow, you can knock on it or check temperature with a meter (which should read 96°C).
10
When done, leave the tin on a wire rack. Loosen the cozonac from the tin and leave it to rest for another 30 minutes before cutting into slices.
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