ROMANIAN TRADITIONAL COZONAC
8-9 cups all purpose flour (2.2 lb)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 full cup of sugar
6 egg yolks
7 oz. butter (a bit short of a full cup) - melted
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp. active dry yeast
2 tsp. orange flavoring or orange zest
2 tsp. rum flavoring
Turkish delight cut in tiny pieces and coated with powdered sugar to prevent sticking
3 egg whites
3 Tblsp. sugar
2 cups minced walnuts or pecans
1/2 cups white raisins soaked in rum
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
egg wash and granulated sugar
1. Warm up the milk to 110 degrees Fahrenheit and place it in the mixing bowl. Add the sugar and the yeast, mix it a bit and let it sit until it foams.
2. Beat lightly the eggs and egg yolks with the salt.
3. Pour the melted and slightly cooled butter to the yeast mixture; mix until well blended. (The butter should not be hotter then the milk)
4. Add the eggs; mix until well blended.
5. Add the flavorings.
6. Start adding the flour cup by cup (you can use the whisk or your stand mixer). Add all 8 cups, kneading the dough well. The dough needs to be springy and slightly sticky. Sprinkle more flour if needed, but avoid adding too much, or the dough will become very dense. As long as the dough sticks but does not get on your fingers, it is good to work with. Here's how it looks like:
7. Oil a big bowl and place the dough in it face down, then turn it upwards again, making sure the dough is well coated all around.
8. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for an hour or so, until it doubles in size.
9. While the dough is rising, place the raisins into a cup and pour enough rum over them to cover them. Let them soak. (Note: if you don't have rum, simply place them in a small saucer with super hot milk. Let them sit a minute or two, then remove from the heat. Let them soak.)
10. When the dough is almost done, beat the egg whites with the sugar. When it forms peaks, add the cocoa powder. Mix well. Add the flavoring, the minced walnuts or pecans. Drain the raisins and add them to the egg whites mixture. Set aside.
9. Once the dough is done, divide it into three equal parts - this will give you the three cakes. Now you can add the filling and you can do this in more then one way: You can divide each part of the dough in 2 or 3 parts or leave it in just one big dough ball. I made it all three ways and I can't decide which way I like it best. When you divide the dough in 3, you can braid it and the outside looks beautiful!... When you divide it in 2, you can twist a rope... When you leave it in one big dough ball, you can put both fillings together and twist the one strand to achieve the rope look. The difference is only in the slice... where the filling will be when you cut the cake...
10. I will show you pics of how I made the two strand rope, since I didn't have time to take pics of all three types. The process is the same, regardless on how you decide to put it together. You take the dough and roll it out trying to achieve a rectangular shape, a bit longer then you loaf pans (mine are about 12 inches long). Place the filling on each of the rectangular pieces of dough . I put Turkish delight on one, and the nuts and raisins filling on the second one, but you can place both (Turkish delight on top of the nuts) on each dough part.
11. Roll the dough into strands, sealing the seams by pressing and pinching. Then put the strands together, seam side down, press two ends together and start twisting.
12. Oil your loaf pans, line them with baking paper and oil that as well. Place your cozonac in the pans and let it sit in a warm place, out of the draft, for another 45 minutes or until it doubles in size.
13. Prepare the egg wash by mixing one egg yolk with one tablespoon water. Brush it over the cake before placing in the oven. Sprinkle granulated sugar all over the top.
14. Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees F or until brownish-golden on the top. (After 40 minutes start watching it closely)
15. Let it cool before taking it out of the pan and slicing it. Serve it cool. Makes a great breakfast snack along a cup of milk or hot chocolate :). We, adults, also have it as a desert along a glass of hot and spicy red wine. Great after shoveling a bunch of snow off the driveway! Our family eats a loaf a day during the holiday season so we make LOTS AND LOTS of these: