10 February 2014

We love to eat this sweet bread at home and, even that it is mostly celebrated in our family during Easter, I can have it any day.  To be honest, it is daunting the time and work that goes into it, but besides that it is so pretty, it is sensationally delicious and the textures of the bread's “strings” are unforgettable, that any effort is worth waiting for.
Sweet breads are very common part of the baking traditions of most European countries in their Jewish and Christian communities.  We call it Kozunak in Bulgaria, my family in Greece calls it Tsoureki, in Hungary it is known as Kalács, Chałka – in Poland and if you get completely lost in so many names, just ask for Brioche when in France.  I was having a sweet chit-chat with my dear friend Bella when she reminded me that she actually is baking it every week for Shabbat dinner.  Boy, that’s a lot of work if you have to do it the traditional way!
I've found the best recipe that hasn't fail me from first go and can’t stop bragging about it.  I considered myself lucky when I stumbled on the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes.  I considered myself blessed when I started baking their breads.  When in a hurry, I bake the dough in loaves.  But most often, with my two little girls growing and learning to cook and bake, we make our Flower Pots Challah and they love it!  Here is my variation of their basic Brioche recipe.

Flower Pots Challah
(Kozunak | Tsoureki | Kalács | Całka | Brioche)
Makes about 2 loaves
170 gr lukewarm water
1 packet of dry yeast
8 grams salt
4 large eggs (lightly beaten)
110 gr sugar
172.5 gr unsalted butter (melted)
695 gr unbleached all-purpose flour
Mix the yeast, salt, eggs sugar and melted butter with the water in a big bowl.  Mix in the flour until all of the ingredients are integrated.
Cover with kitchen towel and leave it at room temperature for about two hours.  After two hours fold the dough and let it rest again.  Then put it in the refrigerator overnight.  I found that is much, much easier to handle the dough and make intricate and complicated plaids if I have my dough chilled.  This way I can allow the children to be part of the braiding without having a nervous breakdown…  If you are new in the art of braiding, try to stay with two or three strands until you gain more experience and confidence working with sweet and sticky dough.
As Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes suggest, the dough can be used as soon as it is chilled.  This dough is way too sticky to use after the initial rise, but once it is chilled, it is very easy to handle.  The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  After that you can freeze the dough.
When you decide you are going to bake the brioche, take it out from the refrigerator and shape it to your desire.  Cover it with clean kitchen towel.  Let the shaped dough rest on room temperature for about 3 hours.
To bake a large, round challah: Place the pan into a preheated 200°C oven.  After 10 minutes, reduce the oven heat to 175°C and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes more.  Check the bread in 15 minutes.  Cover with aluminium foil if it shows to be browning too quickly.  I simply block the top by placing the wide tray on the rack above.  This sweet bread should be deep brown in colour when done; it also should sound hollow when tapped at the bottom.  Remove the bread from the oven, and after 10 minutes remove it from the baking pan on a rack to cool completely.
To bake the flower pots challah – Make sure the terracotta pots are food-safe.  Place the pots into a preheated 190°C oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes (tent after 10 minutes if they're browning too quickly).  Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, and then turn out onto a rack.
To bake the loaves: Allow the loaves to rise till they've nearly reached the rim of the pan, about 3 hours. Bake in a preheated 175°C oven for 40 to 45 minutes, tenting with foil after 15 to 20 minutes.  You can bake the two loaves in two loaf tins at the same time in the oven.

Until my next post,
My very best wishes,

© 2014 - sophia terra~ziva.  all rights reserved


  1. Oh my Sophia...I love this and feel like baking bread immediately! Delicious.

    1. Hi Jane! For you this will be like a breeze - you are so good with baking and breads. Love your blog!
      I use this dough for so many other sweet things. I might share them in another post. Oh, dear God, will I ever lose weight with these sweet temptations?!!... :)

    2. Thanks Sophia, you are kind. If you made this as a loaf how would you normally serve it? I guess it probably doesn't need much...a little jam perhaps? When we get some cooler weather this is on my to-bake list :)

    3. Jane, at the moment the latest craze in my home is to have it as an ice cream sandwich. But I have served it in many other ways, including just fresh, warm and plain. One of the things I do is to put under the grill a a slice of the challah/brioche with sprinkled dices of Turkish delight just enough to get the Turkish delight melting and then indulge yourself with cream, or ice cream, or dust it with icing sugar - it is very decadent and I don't think I want my GP to read this comments right now ;) I do make something nice using this dough recipe and Turkish delight and pretty soon will blog about it.

    4. Wow! Thanks for some great ideas :)

  2. Hi Sophia,

    These are so clever and absolutely gorgeous. Thank you so much for tryng the recipe!!!

    Cheers, Zoë

    1. Dear Zoë, this is only the tip of the iceberg! I have so much sunk in to your book and bread baking it is now not weekly but almost daily routine. My family loves it, my neighbours love it and even the cat across the road knows when I am baking and moves on our front verandah... I can't think of better nurturing way to warm the heart of your family and to make a house home!!!

  3. I too love Zoe's book. I made her artisan bread for the first time a few years ago and I've never looked back. http://www.slim-shoppin.com/first-time-making-artisan-bread/

    Your photos are amazing, love that you baked these in pots - too cute!

    1. I think that the success of this book is that everything is so easy to understand and the logic of bread making is explained in very accessible way. It will be a milestone for many years to come!

  4. Здравей София !! Благодаря ти за прекрасната рецепта !! Винаги съм мислила, че печенето на козунак е сложна работа, но сега съм супер мотивирана да опитам за този Великден. Поръсен със захар, и може би белени бадеми, както в детските ми спомени от България ;) Прекрасен блог, прекрасно вдъхновение, благодаря ти, че споделяш всичко това с нас ! (Попаднах на блога ти четейки списание SOFFA) Много поздрави от Париж и сърдечни пожелания за красив Великден !

    1. Здравей, Александра! Надявам се да е прекрасно пролетно време в Париж и да посрещнеш Великден заобиколена от приятели и любими!!!
      Тази рецепта наистина се оказа отговорът за всички мистериозни загадки, които заобикаляха любимият ми козунак - онова леко тесто, което се къса на конци, аромат и изкушение да ядеш, докато свърши... Аз използвам същото тесто и да правя локумени кифлички, което ме навява на мисълта, че вариациите са безбройни. Ако обичаш козунак, аз искренно те окуражавам да опиташ рецептата. Много е лесно за приготвяне. Не забравяй да сложиш тестото в хладилника, защото това е ключово за лесното обработване на мекото маслено тесто. Успех и бон апетит! Целувки отдалече!

    2. Здравей отново, София ! Благодаря ти за милите думи ! Май ще трябва да се поупражнавям повече с правенето на козунак...;) http://instagram.com/p/nANLnOSvJF/
      Изглежда добре, но тестото не се разви хубаво..имаш ли някакви специални съвети за етапа на правене на тестото ? Следвах реда на добавяне, които си указала...Както и да е, добре, че във френските хлебарници има brioche ! ;) Весел семеен Великден !

    3. Христос Възкресе!
      Козунакът изглежда разкошно на снимката! Ако нещо е било несполучливо, може ли да ми го опишеш (дали е било тиклаво вътре или дали не се е надигнало достатъчно). Така ще ми е лесно да разбера какво се е случило. Понякога има значение колко дълго го оставяш в съда за печене след като е изваден от фурната, което може да предизвика изпотяване на козунака и да стане тиклав. Но освен това, както при хляб, така и при сладки хлебни печива, не се препоръчва да се разрязва веднага след изпичане. На времето моята баба завиваше хляба под одеалото и казваше, че го е пратила да иде до нивата да благодари на житото и да се върне :) И ние, будаленцата, чакахме хляба да се "върне от нивата"...


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