Bulgarian Easter Bread (Kozunak)

"Got this recipe from my Bulgarian mother-in-law (took notes while she made it, and have made it since). This makes a lot, so feel free to halve it - I often do, but it also freezes really well. It's a day's project, but well worth it - we love the combination of the lemon zest and the rummy raisins in this fresh bread. The braiding is the traditional form, but I have also made this in small loaf pans just to save time, and rolls are yummy too. Be careful not to cook too long - you will lose the wonderful stretchy yeasty moist texture."
photo by stelisimo photo by stelisimo
photo by stelisimo
Ready In:
8 loaves




  • Mix first five ingredients (yeast, small amount sugar, salt, one egg, warm milk) in a large bowl.
  • Cover and leave in a warm place for 40 minutes.
  • Put raisins in rum to cover, and set aside to soak.
  • Grate and juice the lemons.
  • Set aside.
  • Sift 4 of the five pounds of flour onto a large tray or other work surface.
  • (You can estimate- does not need to be precise.).
  • Melt butter and combine with oil.
  • Heat 2 cups of milk and sugar on low in a small saucepan until warm.
  • Separate 4 of the eggs; set aside the yolks for brushing.
  • Beat the whites with the other 7 eggs.
  • Add a handful of the flour from the work surface to the warm yeast mixture.
  • Bit by bit, mix in with a spoon the rest of the flour, the milk mixture, the beaten eggs and the butter/oil mixture.
  • When most of it is together, mix in the lemon juice and zest, and the vanilla.
  • Adding more flour to the work surface if necessary, dump out the dough and knead until it holds together well.
  • Let the dough rest in a warm place until double in bulk (1-2 hours).
  • You may need to divide between two bowls.
  • Punch down and knead the dough.
  • Drain the raisins and dredge in flour.
  • Work about half of them into the dough as you knead, a few at a time.
  • Let the dough sit and rise again (another 1-2 hours).
  • Preheat oven to 425 (400 if your oven runs hot).
  • Punch down and knead again.
  • Divide the dough into 8 parts.
  • Each of these, divide into three parts; roll them long and braid into a single loaf.
  • While braiding, work the remainder of the raisins between the strands.
  • Brush the loaves with the reserved egg yolk and stud the top with nuts.
  • Bake the loaves about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  • (We usually did about 3 loaves at a time.) You can also use the dough to make smaller rolls, if you prefer; bake for proportionally less time.

Questions & Replies

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  1. I have been looking for the exact right recipe for years. My Bulgarian husband has very specific memories on how his mother made this bread. This recipe is it! Labor intensive but worth it!
  2. Excellent! Time consuming but turned out very nicely! Watch the cooking time, check early.
  3. I've been using this recipe every year for Easter. It is very well defined and the step by step approach is easy to follow. I’ve been always successful and my family loves the outcome of it every time
  4. I love this recipe. I am Bulgarian who leaves in the New Jersey, but I make traditional food for the holidays. I found this recipe three years ago and have been using it ( and somewhat adopting it) ever since. Without the almonds the kozunak is very similar to my grandmother's. Back in the 70s and in the town where we leaved (just outside Sofia) the women used sultanas, lots of lemon, vanelin (artificial vanilla) and a lot more sugar. Today Bulgarian cooking is different; even my mom thinks that almonds and chocolate are good update. Over the years I've been twicking the recipe, usually thrippling it and using fresh yeast. I am yet to perfect the ratio of yeast to total liquid, and everyone have asked for sweeter kozunak. So this year I'll use twise the sugar and report back. Looking forward to a day of baking this heavenly breads. Thank you for posting this recipe.
  5. We are in the AF and I made this to make so international students feel at home during Easter. It was so good that one student thought my husband bought it at a bakery and another offered to pay me to make more. I told him I love to cook and would love to make more for him, free of charge. Great bread, makes me miss Europe!!!


I'm currently a stay at home mom for my three kids in Hanover, NH. At various times previously, I've been a candle decorater, math teacher, technical writer and computer programmer.
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