|Alternative names||Bulgarian: козунак|
|Region or state||Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Serbia, Romania, Moldova|
|Main ingredients||Wheat flour |
Cozonac (Romanian: [kozoˈnak]) or Kozunak (Bulgarian: козунак [kozuˈnak]) is a special sweet leavened bread, traditional to Southeastern Europe, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia, North Macedonia, Greece, etc. Rich in eggs, milk and butter, it is usually prepared for Easter in Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, and mostly for every major holiday (Christmas, Easter, New Year's Day) in Romania and Moldova. The name comes from the Bulgarian word for hair-коса/kosa, or Greek: ϰοσωνάϰι kosōnáki, a diminutive form of ϰοσώνα kosṓna.
Cozonac was the sweet chosen to represent Romania in the Café Europe initiative of the Austrian presidency of the European Union, on Europe Day 2006.
It is possible that the first cozonac was made in Ancient Egypt, sweetened with honey and filled with seeds. From the Egyptians, Greeks gained their interest in cuisine, the yeast, and the leavened doughs.
Certainly, the Greeks have eaten cozonac.[when?] They made it with honey, raisins and walnuts. The Greek cozonac is called plakoús (πλακούς). Yeast and implicitly leavened breads, such as cozonac, were later introduced to the Romans, where they added dried fruits to the cozonac. At first, there were only two varieties called libum and placenta. Libum was a small cake, used as an offering to the gods.
Later appeared versions were also consumed by people, not only by the gods. Placenta, more elaborate, is a cozonac made from cheese, raisins and peanuts, which was served with a sweet wine. Although they took the ready-made yeast from the Greeks and the Egyptians, the Romans were the ones who discovered all the possibilities offered by the yeast added to doughs, thus becoming true masters of pastry. In the Middle Ages, European bakers often made cozonac with dried fruits, because they lasted longer.
In Great Britain, the first recipe of cozonac appears in a cookbook in 1718, with the recommendation to be baked in long and narrow forms, a recommendation that remains valid nowadays.
Today, this dessert with a long history is prepared mainly in southeastern European countries, especially in North Macedonia, Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria, where it is considered a traditional food.
Cozonac is a sweet bread, into which milk, yeast, eggs, sugar, butter, and other ingredients are mixed together and allowed to rise before baking. In Bulgaria, the kozunak is prepared by adding lemon zest to the dough mixture, just as the Romanian version.
In North Macedonia, the Macedonians for Easter traditionally bake a sweet bread called with sultanas and raisins in the shape of a girl's plated hair, a braid. That is why the name of this traditional Easter bread is derived from the Bulgarian word for hair-коса/kosa. There is also the straw plated mat Macedonians in the past used to lay on the ground to sleep upon called Rogozina or Ruguzina. In Romania, the recipes for trimmings differ rather significantly between regions. The dough is essentially similar throughout the country; a plain sweet bread made from flour, eggs, milk, butter, sugar and salt. Depending on the region, one may add to it any of the following: raisins, grated orange or lemon zest, walnuts or hazelnuts, and vanilla or rum flavor. Cozonac may be sprinkled with poppy seeds on top. Other styles dictate the use of a filling, usually a ground walnut mixture with ground poppy seeds, cocoa powder, rum essence, or raisins. The dough is rolled flat with a pin, the filling is spread and the whole is rolled back into a shape vaguely resembling a pinwheel. In the baked product, the filling forms a swirl adding to the character of the bread.
Cozonac is a sweet, egg-enriched bread, which is rooted in the cuisines of Western and Central Asia. Examples of similar breads from other cultures include badnji kruh in Croatian cuisine, folar de páscoa in Portuguese cuisine, brioche in French cuisine, kulich in Russian cuisine, panettone in Italian cuisine, hot cross bun in English cuisine, challah in Jewish cuisine, or stollen in German cuisine. Such rich brioche-like breads are also traditional in other countries, such as Hungary and the Czech Republic.