From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I love bread and Christmas in our home would be incomplete without a holiday loaf that we can break together and eat with our coffee on Christmas morning. Some of the breads are beautiful, elaborate affairs, while others are downright plain in their simplicity. Plain or pretty, they must be delicious to make it to my table, and if they have a story to tell they are sure to be a shoe in. This Romanian bread is much like Italian panettone and while it is time consuming to make, it is easier to make than its Italian cousin. While this is not a beginner's bread, those who have a modicum of patience and a bit of experience with yeast breads, will be in for a treat come Christmas or New Year's morning. Here is how this Romanian bread is made.
Romanian Holiday Bread - Cozonac...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of about.com
2-1/2 tablespoons + 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup +1/2 cup + 1/4 cup milk
1 package active dry yeast
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup superfine sugar
4 ounces light or dark raisins
Zest of 1 lemon
4 ounces melted butter
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 ounce walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar (optional)
1) Scald 1/2 cup milk and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons flour until smooth. Let cool 10 minutes.
2) Heat another 1/2 cup milk just until lukewarm. Do not scald. Place yeast in a small bowl and pour lukewarm milk over, stirring until dissolved. Add yeast mixture to flour paste and beat until large air bubbles appear. Cover and let rise at least 15 minutes.
3) Heat remaining 1/4 cup milk to lukewarm. Do not overheat. Pour into a warmed large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Add, stirring after each ingredient, the egg yolks, sugar, raisins, zest, yeast mixture and flour. Knead about 10 minutes by machine or 15-20 minutes with buttered hands while still in the bowl, adding butter as necessary to achieve a nonsticky, pliable, moist ball of dough. It will probably take about 3 ounces of butter. Save the rest.
3) Add rum, vanilla and oil and knead another 2-3 minutes. Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. Punch down and with hands dipped in some of the reserved melted butter, knead another 5-10 minutes.
4) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10- to 12-inch round pan that is at least 3 inches deep with cooking spray. Using buttered hands, twist the dough and place in the pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until dough reaches the top of the pan.
5) Mix 1 large egg yolk with 1 tablespoon cold water and brush top of dough. Sprinkle walnuts and a few raisins on the dough, if desired. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick tests clean or an instant-read thermometer registers 190 degrees.
6) Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. If you wish, while the cake is still hot, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and walnuts. Yield: 1 loaf.
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