Romanian recipe · sweet · sweet bread

Celebrating My Room’s Rebirth with Cozonac

Cozonac with our garden plums

I’m continuing my international cuisine experiments, this time with a Romanian sweet filled bread, Cozonac (meaning ‘biscuit’). I have no friends yet from Romania so I’m dedicating it to my room’s rebirth. It’s coming back to life after tiresome ceiling and window sill redo along with the change of carpet, sofa and yet-to-come (hopefully from IKEA) curtains and sofa cover. This Cozonac is tasty, not too sweet (you can guess my parents eat it with homemade raspberry jam) and really effectively huge =) I had to bake it additional 15 min I think, cause it seemed a bit too soft in the middle (I should have chosen a larger pan). Anyway, it’s just what you need for a rainy and veeeeeeeeeeeery windy day when you also have to go to two job interviews (oooh, how boring…).

Before moving on to the recipe I want to apologize once again for not continuing my Soviet or Russian traditional topics, I will return to them soon, got already some ideas and recipes from my Granny (whose birthday is tomorrow, which means more baking from her and my sides;) ). I’ve even already written some posts about public catering and leftovers dishes but for publishing that I still have to cook at least some of the recipes I’ll be talking about in my future posts.

And one more thing before the recipe – some photos from my room redo which was mostly done by my Mother, who’s an expert in so many things, a truly Soviet person. She’s my constant counselor and well of knowledge in what regards the Soviet era (sometimes it’s hard even for her to realize this huge difference between the ‘good ol’ times’ and nowadays). She’s in this photo on the left with my Father, both in their special Soviet clothes, kept in some remote corner for how many years.

And this is me on the right. I’m contributing to my room better look after two consecutive winters when exactly my room got flooded from above – we live on the last floor…Even with no apparent holes in the roof milliards of last-floor households got their roofs damaged with all that hhhm stuff combined with the crazy amount of melting snow leaking and also showering down from the roof attic. We got our 10 000 roubles compensation for it, that’s true, but who can make up for my Father’s risk climbing on the roof to get rid of the snow which can further damage our ceilings?! Ok, that’s not the place to flood you with my complaints =)

So, the clothes are from the Soviet era, typical ones, my Mother got the trousers from Detsky Mir store (Children World store with all kinds of goods for kids) in the beginning of the 90s and they were considered rather cool and apparently not only suitable for children. The T-shirt is just pure cotton, even transparent after active use =) Kidding, I’m not wearing this stuff, nor does any of my family except for such special occasions when you paint the ceiling, we actually swap them with my Mother.

The old carpet changing is the most interesting part (if you don’t mind its pieces flying all around the room when you lift it and look under it…). Now I’ve got two identical ‘Persian’ carpets from Germany, bought God knows when for special coupons one could get – as in case of my Grandfather – for the business trip abroad during Soviet times. He went to Germany and instead of actual money (you’re not supposed to buy Western-capitalism stuff!!) he got those coupons which could be used only in a specialized shop back home (famous Beryozka shops, with exported goods not available in other Soviet shops, only on black market). The only thing my Mother and Granny could find in that shop was this Persian carpet from Germany. After my Grandfather’s second business trip and the same amount of coupons, the only solution was to buy yet another carpet – identical (great choice!). For how many years those two were hanging on our walls – a typical Soviet way of disposing of carpets, gathering dust, being a kind of sound-insulation too and protecting from cold. But also taking away lots of light, as they are dark. So now (such a blasphemy!) they’re aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah under our legs, quite soft by the way =) They are weird, too bright for a carpet but at least now they ARE carpets. Soviet way of hanging them as a sort of picture or a status sign doesn’t work for me, I prefer practical things.

And about things – on the left is a small treasure I found behind the bookcase, which is not THAT old but it’s here since we were children with my sister. I can clearly remember most of the found things, except for this weird story about some ‘An-Maly notes‘ of a girl who wore pink and spoke Russian with an accent =) haha, written and illustrated by me =) What else was there? The plasticine figures made according to the patterns from the plasticine package, the box from Estonian marmalade (from hard Perestroyka times), Norwegian candies (I even remember their taste, don’t remember how we got them though, not a usual stuff to buy in those years), nut shell (why not?), a box with some ‘treasures’ (usually children bury them underground to discover them later, it’s called ‘small secret’), an old pencil, a postcard for my great grandmother and a paper stating that we won’t chase for green plastic bags owners in particular districts of my city =D That was a ‘game’ we created with my sister and friends, haha, Green Plastic Bags mission! Now I put all of them into a paper bag and will take them to our dacha, a usual place to keep all your old stuff.

But now, the recipe, adapted from fabfoodblog.blogspot.com.

Cozonac, Romanian sweet bread 

  • 600 g all purpose flour
  • 100 g butter, melted and cooled (I used somewhere about 1/4 of that, so don’t melt too much;) )
  • 150 g white sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 l milk + a bit more for the yeast
  • 25 g fresh yeast (now I have only half a package for my Soviet stuff)
  • 60 g walnuts, almonds, nuts, chopped (I used walnuts, cashew, raisins and chopped dried fruit)
  • 3 Tbs cocoa powder
  • zest of one lemon (I took some orange zest from the freezer)
  • 4 Tbs rum (‘Zapekanka‘ I told you about before)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk and a little milk (it took me whole yolk and a bit of prostokvasha (kind of fermented milk or buttermilk) cause I ran out of milk )

Loosen the yeast in a little warm milk and leave for 5 to 10 minutes until bubbly (mine wouldn’t bubble).
Meanwhile, heat 1/4 l milk but do not let it boil. Place 2 Tbs flour in a salad bowl, add the hot milk and mix vigorously until smooth. Leave to cool down somewhat.
Separate the 4 eggs into whites and yolks.
Beat the whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks.
In a bowl, mix together the 4 egg yolks, the powdered sugar, 2 Tbs rum, lemon zest and 1 tsp vanilla extract until smooth and homogeneous.
When the milk and flour mixture has cooled down, add 2/3 of the beaten egg whites and the egg yolks mixture. Mix, and leave for a few minutes (As there was no mention of the yeast-milk mixture, I added it at this stage).
Place the flour in a large salad bowl and add the preceding mixture. Mix. If the dough is too wet, add some flour but not enough to obtain a stiff dough. Knead for about 10 minutes (I’m too impatient to knead for 10 min…)
Start adding melted butter, one tsp at the time. Knead well, then add more butter. Keep kneading the dough for about 20 minutes (popopopo!). Depending on the dough and how it feels to the touch, you might not need to add all the butter (I added all in all about 25 g of melted butter and I don’t think the dough lost a lot from it).

halved Cozonac the next day

Shape the dough as a ball, place in a lightly oiled container, cover with a towel and leave to ferment for an hour.

During this time, mix the cocoa, 2 Tbs rum, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, the chopped dry fruits and the remaining 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to obtain a thick paste (I would make more filling as there’s so much of dough that the filling is totally lost somewhere in the middle).
Divide the dough in 2, 3 or 4 equal parts (I made 3 parts). Flatten each part in a rectangle, spread the cocoa mix and roll up. Braid the strands together, then place in a lightly buttered baking tin (choose a wider one so that the bread won’t take ages to bake). Cover with a towel and leave to proof for an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 C.

Bake at 200 C for 10 minutes then lower the oven temperature to 180 C. Bake for a further 10-15 min (I baked mine 10 min) then, using a pastry brush, coat the surface with a mix of egg yolk and milk (at this point, before brushing, my bread was already brown and very tall almost touching the oven ‘ceiling’). Bake a further 20 min (here I had to cover it with aluminium foil which was tricky cause the bread was so huge and tall. I took it out after 20 min and as it was too soft in the middle, I left it covered but already taken from the pan for additional 15 min in the oven, then switched it off and left the bread there with an open door).
Immediately remove from the baking tin and leave to cool on a rack for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

Ok, have to go now. Wish me luck and less reluctant and lazy approach to job seeking.

G.

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2 thoughts on “Celebrating My Room’s Rebirth with Cozonac

  1. You are such an amazing “escritora” ! Im reading all the receipes and stories… BTW, can you adapt the berry part? can we do it with other fruits? because I can’t find in my stormy island those things, just frozen..maybe… I will check… I like the pictures. Plus I have one new thing, everytime I start to read I will hear Oneguin! Les vieux temps strasbourgeois!

  2. Dear Melina, I miss you badlyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!
    you mean the fruits for this Cozonac? You can use any of them, nuts, raisins, pieces of chocolate, dates, whatever you find delicious to put inside, just put more than 60 g, cause there’s too much dough around the filling! Your island must be full of fruits even if it’s stormy, I’m sure =)
    aaaah, les temps passes, ils sont inoubliables! je veux parler français, manger tes plats au banane-platane et rouler au vélo… Maintenant il me semble que tout cela était dans une rêve… étrange!

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