For the record, I am a crazy person. I know this, and accept this (Jana’s note: Her friends and family know, love and accept this too.). Recently, my book club read Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier. It was my turn to host, and since the book is a beautiful fairy tale retelling set in Romania, I decided to look up Romanian recipes. I chose Cozonac, which is a sweet lemony raisin bread with a swirl of chocolate walnuts and rum extract. YUM! This is apparently something that is made at Christmas and Easter, and it’s a fairly ambitious recipe.
This brings me to the fact that I’m crazy. I could probably serve Oreos straight out of the package and everyone would still be friends with me. I want to go on record and tell my book club that in NO WAY should they expect to try to be as insane as I am with recipes. I just love trying new things, especially from other cultures. I wanted to see if it worked.
It worked. The bread was delicious, and I loved the chocolate swirl. It was something different that I had never tried before. I do have one suggestion for the recipe. The bread, in spite of being wrapped up, dried out quickly. It’s not nearly as good the next day. This can be remedied with a little bit of Ultra Gel in the batch to keep the bread moist, or definitely expect to serve it the same day.
My version is a combination of a lot of online recipes. I have no idea if this is really like the authentic Romanian recipe, and I would happily accept correction from those of you from Romanian or of Romanian heritage.
4 cups flour + added flour later (bread flour recommended)
6 egg yolks, reserve egg whites when separating.
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 cups milk
1 pinch salt
6 tsp dry yeast
½ cup raisins
grated lemon peel
1 tsp rum extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups walnuts
5 Tbl sugar
5 Tbl cocoa powder
1 tsp rum extract
reserved egg whites
Work with ingredients at room temperature. Mix flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat milk, butter, and lemon peel until butter is melted. Remove from heat, and let cool 5 minutes. Add rum and vanilla extracts. Beat the egg yolks, and temper them with the milk mixture by beating a few Tablespoons of the milk and the butter in with the eggs. Mix eggs and milk together, and add to the flour mixture, mixing well. Add additional flour to make a soft dough, and knead well. Add raisins, and continue kneading until well mixed. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rise until doubled in bulk. In the meantime, make the filling by putting walnuts, sugar and cocoa in a food processor and process until chopped, but not too fine. Beat Egg whites until stiff. Fold in walnut mixture and rum extract. Set aside. Split dough in half, roll out into rectangle on a board, and spread with half of the filling. Roll up and place seam down in a greased bread pan. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Let rise again until doubled Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes. Makes 2 loaves