Kozunak – Bulgarian Sweet Easter bread-recipe updated!

Easter breads 201107
I have been asked so many questions about this recipe, that I decided I should repost it and update the instructions, hopefully you’ll find it useful when making this delicious treat ! 
Before I continue, I have to say that the original recipe is NOT mine! 
It was published by a very nice lady from a Bulgarian forum( Scarlet, THANK YOU!). However, the instructions and pictures are mine! I have been making this recipe since 2006 and it is one of the best Kozunak recipes I’ve tried!


Ingredients for the dough
 – dry ingredients
7 and 1/2 cups( to 8 cups, depends how big are the eggs) sifted flour
1/8 tsp salt
– liquid ingredients
6 large eggs
1 and 1/3 cup white sugar
– yeast mixture
4 tsp dry yeast
1 and 1/4 cup room temperature milk
1 tsp sugar
– additional
2/3 cup melted butter
2/3 cup vegetable oil

1 extra egg for brushing the crust before baking
2-3 tbsp lemon zest ( if you like it) or lemon flavor. 

1. Preheat the oven at 350F( I use it to warm up the room at first too!).
2. Mix with a mixer on high speed the eggs and sugar until creamy.
3. Sift the dry ingredients together( flour and salt).
4. In a bowl combine the yeast mixture ingredients– milk, yeast and 1 tsp of sugar. Stir until the yeast dissolves completely, then cover with plastic wrap, cover with blanket or something similar, so it can stay warm and wait 15 min to rise.( To rise means to have kind of a foam on top)
If using a bread machine
5. Place the liquid ingredients first, then add 4 cups of the dry ingredients and start the Dough program on your machine. Add gradually ( spoon by spoon) the rest 3.5 cups of flour. Use the kneading phase of your dough cycle 2 times in a row( just stop the breadmaker and start again).
6. When all of the flour is incorporated well, add gradually the oil and butter ( and lemon zest if you like it).
7.  The second time leave the breadmaker to finish the Dough cycle, the dough will rise in it.  Continue to step 8.
If using a stand up mixer with dough kneading option:
5. Place the liquid ingredients first, mix well with the dough kneading attachment on the setting according to your manual.
6. Add gradually the dry ingredients until well incorporated then add spoon by spoon the oil and butter ( and lemon zest if you like it).
7. Grease the mixer bowl with oil and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm room.  
Continue to step 8.

If kneading by hand:
5. Place the dry ingredients in the container where your are going to knead, then on top of them add the wet ingredients.
6. Knead at least 40 minutes! The longer, the better! 
7.Gradually add the butter and oil ( and lemon zest if you like it) while kneading. When the dough is ready, grease the container, place the dough in it and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it in a warm place ( today it was 95F at my kitchen) to rise.
Continue to step 8.
8.After the dough is ready, divide it by weight to fit your containers and set aside. If you want to achieve the traditional braided form, you can use 3-4-5 + dough “ropes” to braid the bread.
9. Simply take a ball of dough, roll it out with your rolling pin on a greased surface, you can add if you want filling like, nuts, chocolate, jam, raisins etc, then roll it inwards. 
10. When you have all your “ropes” hold the ends of each rope  and twist them in the opposite directions.

11. Braid the ropes together and place them in greased deep baking pans. Let them rise until they reach the top of the baking pan.
* Note : Each breaded unbaked kozunak should fill in half of the baking pan you are going to bake it into before you leave it to rise before baking!

12. When the kozunak has risen, brush with egg white( or a whole egg) on top, sprinkle some sugar and/or some nuts and bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes, depending on the shape you chose and the size of the pan you are using.