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Apr 14, 2020

Kozunak (Bulgarian Easter Bread)

Kozunak is a slightly sweet enriched celebration bread often served Easter morning in Bulgaria.


Kozunak is similar to many celebration breads of Europe, especially eastern Europe, and is enriched with eggs, oil, and sugar. It reminds me of brioche, pandoro, or Pane di Pasqua, except that it calls for oil rather than butter.

In fact, it's a close cousin to Romanian Cozonac. I've seen versions of this bread braided in a strand, braided into a round, and topped with slivered almonds. You can also fill it with rum soaked raisins.

Bulgarian Easter Bread

True to the tradition of European celebration breads, this bread is flavored with vanilla and lemon zest, which reminds me of fiori de Sicilia, an extract that is often used in Italian celebration breads.

This Kozunak is wonderful the day that it's made, sliced and buttered, spread with Nutella, or slathered in your favorite jam. Leftover bread makes excellent French toast and bread pudding.

For more Easter breads, be sure to check out Orange Blueberry Hot Cross Buns, Pane de Pascua, Flaounes, and Crescia al Formaggio

Kozunak slices

Tips for making Bulgarian Kozunak. 

Enriched breads such as this Kozunak, with eggs and fat, can sometimes turn out heavy and dry. To prevent this, be sure to knead it thoroughly, slowly incorporating the oil or butter at the end. Don't be tempted to add extra flour. The dough should be pretty sticky. Using a stand mixer or bread machine (just for kneading) will make the mixing much easier.

Be sure to bring all of your ingredients, including the eggs, to room temperature.

The interior of this bread should be soft and moist and easy to pull apart without crumbling. The best test to see if the bread is done is to use an instant read thermometer and pull the bread out of the oven when it reaches 190 degrees F.

Bulgarian Easter bread

If your exterior crust begins to get brown too quickly, you can tent the loaf with foil while it is still baking.

The dough for this bread is super sticky. At first I tried to braid it, but it produced what I was sure would be a lopsided loaf after baking. Instead, I divided the dough into 6 equal pieces, rolled each into a ball, and placed them next to each other in the pan to create a "faux" braid. I'm super happy with how it turned out.

Please keep my secret that it's not a real braid.

Crust of Kozunak

Brush this bread with an egg wash and sprinkle some sparkling sugar or slivered almonds on top for a nice finish.

Happy belated Easter!

This month, the Bread Bakers are baking Easter breads, a theme chosen by Culinary Adventures with Camilla.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to Stacy at

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Kozunak, a Bulgarian Easter Bread, is similar to many celebration breads of Europe, especially eastern Europe, and is enriched with eggs, oil, and sugar.

Kozunak (Bulgarian Easter Bread)

Kozunak (Bulgarian Easter Bread)
Yield: 20 servings
Kozunak is a slightly sweet enriched celebration bread often served for Easter in Bulgaria.


For the Dough
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs plus one egg white (reserve the other egg yolk for the egg wash)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 1/2 cups (540 grams/19.2 ounces) flour
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
For the Egg Wash and Topping
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons sparkling sugar


How to cook Kozunak (Bulgarian Easter Bread)

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and yeast. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the sugar and eggs until sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla and then the milk and yeast mixture. Add half of the oil. Mix to combine. Add 1/2 of the flour and, using the paddle attachment, mix until well combined.
  3. Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
  4. Switch to the dough hook and gradually add the rest of the flour, mixing just until combined. Slowly add the remaining oil, mixing constantly. 
  5. Transfer the dough to an oiled dough rising bucket, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 2 to 5 hours.
  6. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and oil a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. 
  7. Once the dough has doubled, on a floured surface, divide the dough into 6 equal sized pieces and form them into balls. Place the balls in the prepared loaf pan two across, and three lengthwise. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. 
  8. Whisk together the leftover egg yolk and 1 tbsp milk. 
  9. Brush the bread with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sparkling sugar.
  10. Bake the loaf at 375 F for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 F and bake for at least 20-40 more minutes, until the top of the bread is browned and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The interior of the bread should be 190 degrees F. 
  11. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. De-pan and transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and let it cool completely.
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bread, Kozunak

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Created using The Recipes Generator

This recipe was adapted from Cooking LSL.

Would you like to comment?

  1. You always have such great tips. Thanks for sharing Karen.

  2. Gorgeous bread Karen and love the tips!

  3. Just a beautiful loaf - that texture looks perfectly tender!

  4. Great trick with a sticky dough to make it look braided! You are so clever!

    1. I think otherwise it would have been a big blob!

  5. A faux braid?!? You are a genius. Thanks for joining me. I can't wait to try this, Karen.

  6. This is a lovely bread! The lemon zest and vanilla sound amazing.

  7. Look at that amazing crumb! Love the texture, color and topping. I'm a sucker for lemon in anything.

    1. Thanks Kelly! I always struggle with enriched breads but this one worked!

  8. Absolutely brilliant your way to deal with the shaping....

    Crumb looks so tender....

    1. That means so much that it comes from you xoxo

  9. This is beautiful bread. I love this way of shaping sparkling sugar make it more delicious.

  10. Hello Karen, such a gorgeous bread. Such beautiful colour and the slices have a cake like texture. Can imagine the deliciousness!

  11. Love the sugar sprinkled on top. Also love the faux braid. I wish I had done that with mine because it was really tricky to braid. A bit stickier than I am used to.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I tried braiding and it was a mess!


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