Childhood Christmas and Liberty’s Cozonac – part 2

Merry Christmas to you all!
In the past days I was preparing specific Romanian holidays sweets, and on the top of my list was also the Romanian cozonac. This sweet bread is part like panettone or brioche, but with an specific filling. This year I made my first and I was amazed how easy can be made. In my family is a known tradition that for the big holidays we must make cozonac. My grandma was doing all the time big cozonaci and there was no Christmas without this amazing sweet bread. She was doing it traditionally, using the hands with home-made and organic ingredients, how the french will say à l’ancienne. I didn’t dared to knead the dough manually, so I used the bread machine. The result was a wonderful doré cozonac.

I had an hard time to resize all the quantities of ingredients to smaller numbers, because my grandma’s recipe was for 1kg flour. I have just a loaf pan and this is small and no neighbors to share, if is too much. So I wanted a small cozonac, but equally tasty and beautiful. The result with 300g flour you can see below, and the taste I guarantee you it was amazing. Lesson learnt : don’t be scare of recipes that look complicated, give them a try and you’ll see they aren’t actually so impossible to make.

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Liberty’s Cozonac (adapted from my grandma’s recipe) :

Ingredients :
For the dough:
50g unsalted butter at room temperature
300g all-purpose flour
110ml milk
12g active yeast
70g crystal sugar
vanilla beans
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 yolks, plus one for coating the cake

For the filling:
2 tablespoons dried apricots, cut in small pieces
2 tablespoons of ground nuts
2 tablespoons chocolate
3 tablespoons crystal sugar
4 tablespoons milk

Directions :
To make the dough :
1. Using the bread machine, or in a big bowl, if you wish to mix the ingredients using your hands, sift the flour, add the butter and yolks.
2. To prepare the yeast preheat the milk (be careful it should be lightly warm, not hot) and dissolve the yeast and the sugar. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then add to it the vanilla beans, mix well to combine.
3. Pour this milk over the flour and set your machine to a program to knead well the dough and then let it rest, in a warm place, until doubled in size, around 1 hour. If you choose to mix manually the ingredients, be sure to knead the dough for at least 20 minutes, until you’ll obtain a flexible dough.To make the filling:
1. In a small pot, over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the milk, then add the nuts and dried apricots. Keep stirring until you’ll obtain a creamy consistency. Set aside to cool.To assemble the cozonac:
1. Knead a bit the dough and then divide it in two. Line each part and spread the mixture of nuts and apricots over it. Sprinkle with chocolate squares. Roll it and continue in the same way with the other part of the dough. You should obtain two dough rolls filled with nuts, apricots and chocolate.
2. Twist around the two rolls to obtain a braided cozonac. Place it carefully in a loaf tray already greased with butter and sprinkled with flour and let it rise for 30 minutes more, in a warm place.
3. Meantime, preheat the oven to 150°C. Generously coat the cake with egg wash and sprinkle it with crystal sugar. Bake the cozonac for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. If is starting to cook to much on the upper side, decreased the temperature to 110°C and continue to bake it. When is baked remove it from pan to a wire rack to cool.