I have been living out of the motherland for almost 3 years now. To be very honest, I have only recently started to miss my home and the “taste” of it. I miss how the breakfast bakeries smell of fat and oil, I miss how the tomatoes smell and mainly miss how it all tastes. Everything here in Germany has a different taste. Sometimes I am afraid that if I don’t look when I am eating, I will not know the difference between a cucumber and an apple…
I have come to find that many people from the Balkans seem to have the same problem and we always bond over our mutual lack of good-smelling tomatoes! I have slowly started exchanging recipes and collecting my own ones from grandmas as well. I even have my own little hand-written cookbook! It is still very empty, but I am slowly filling it out.
So in search of bringing my home’s taste to Germany, I have slowly developed my own recipes. The recipe you will find below has been personally tested and I can assure you that it is very easy and also edible!
Easter Bread (a.k.a Kozunak)
- 1 kg flour
- 6 eggs
- 200 gr. butter
- 200 gr. sugar
- 250 ml. milk
- 1 cube of yeast (21 gr. fresh yeast or 15-20 gr. dry yeast)
- lemon peels / extract
- 1 tablespoon rum
- a pinch of salt
- 1 egg-white
Find a big and deep bowl to start mixing the ingredients. First put the flour in the bowl. Then in another medium-sized bowl, mix the eggs and sugar very well. After mixing well, add the lemon peels (or lemon extract) and the tablespoon full of rum. Alongside these, you should heat the milk, so that it becomes as ward as the body temperature – this means that when you touch it, it will not burn you.
Going back to the big bowl, make a hole in the middle of the flour, that looks like a crater in the middle of it. Inside the hole, pour the egg mix, milk and the yeast. Now you have to start mixing the dough. In the beginning you will see that there will be small flour-balls forming, but don’t worry about this, because it is totally normal! Keep on mixing and you will see the fluffy dough slowly forming. The dough should be soft, easy-to mix and not too-sticky under your fingers. If you find necessary, you can add more flour to your dough. Once the dough is ready, you can place it on a table that was previously sprinkled with flour.
Next step is to melt the butter on the stove – be careful not to fry it. You need to spread the dough on the table and the butter it. Afterwards, take one end of the dough and put it over the other end – as if you are folding it from the middle. Then spread the dough again and butter it again, so that you can fold it once again. Continue repeating this same action until the butter finishes. In the meantime, if the dough starts getting sticky, add some flour on the table and on it, so it doesn’t stick.
When the dough is ready, put it in a tray someplace warm and let it rise. You can put a cloth over it, so it doesn’t get dusty. You usually need to wait 20-30 min. for this. After the dough has doubled in size, take it back on the table and start shaping it. The most famous shape is a circle that is made from a braid. Of course, you can also experiment with the shapes, like I did last time:
Next step is to first butter and then sprinkle the oven shape you want to use with flour. After you have shaped your lovely Easter Breads (I am using the plural form, because from the the mentioned ingredients, I was able to make the above 5 breads), put them in the prepared oven shape and let them rise in it, for another good 15-20 min. At this point, it is important for the Easter Bread to rise in the shape you want it to look like. After it rises enough, if desired, you can decorate it with almonds or nuts. If you do this, you need to smear the top of the bread with the egg-white, so that they don’t burn.
You should put the Easter Bread in a previously well-heated oven at 220°C. After 10 min. you need to drop the oven temperature to 180°C and cook for another 30 min. The bread is ready when it forms a golden crust.