Bulgarian Sweet Easter Bread Kozunak

Sweet Traditional Bulgarian Easter Bread Kozunak, stringy texture and amazing flavor. Recipe makes one 9×5 in bread. Make sure you use a good quality try yeast.

Bulgarian Sweet Easter Bread Kozunak

Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 10
Ingredients:
Bread:
                 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
                 1 cup lukewarm milk
                 3/4 cup sugar
                 3 eggs minus 1 egg yolk
                 2 tsp vanilla extract
                 zest from 1 medium lemon
                 1 tsp lemon juice
                 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter, I prefer oil)
                 4 1/2 cups flour
                 1/4 tsp salt
Egg wash:
                 1 egg yolk
                 1 tbsp cold milk
                 1 tbsp vegetable oil
                 Topping:
                 2 tbsp sugar
Directions:
In a small bowl combine dry yeast, 1/2 cup of the milk and 1 tbsp sugar. Cover and set a side for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, sift flour and add in salt.Set a side.
In a bowl (you can use a stand mixer) whisk together sugar and eggs, until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla and then milk. Add half of the oil. Mix to combine. Add in yeast and milk mixture and whisk to combine. Add 1/2 of the flour and mix until well combined. At this time you can add the lemon juice and lemon zest.
Gradually add the rest of the flour, mixing jus until combined (I use my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the dough hook of speed 4-6). Add the remaining oil in 2-3 parts, mixing in between. Dough should be soft and sticky.
Transfer dough to a large grades and floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at a warm place until it doubles its size. This may take between 2-5 hours, depending on the temperature, humidity and types of ingredients used.
Meanwhile prepare the egg wash for brushing the bread by whisking together 1 egg yolk, 1 tbsp milk, and 1 tbsp oil. Keep in the fridge. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Oil and flour a 9×5 in loaf pan. Set a side.
Once the dough rises, transfer to a generously floured working surface. Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Form balls, then roll into logs. Make a braid out of the dough. Transfer to loaf pan. Cover and let it rest for 15 more minutes.
Brush bread with de wash and top wit a generous amount of sugar. Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 F (177 C) and bake for at least 20-30 more minutes, until the top of the bread is browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let bread cool inside the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let it cool completely.
Note:
You can just mix all ingredients together all at once, but doing it step by step results in a bread with puffy and stringy texture.

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