If you grew up in Eastern Europe then you must have at some point had a taste of a babka variation aka "cozonac" variation. At our house, every holiday was celebrated with "cozonac". This European specialty usually consists of a rich dough made with eggs, milk and butter. However, the star of the show are the flavorful fillings. From poppy seed, walnut, Turkish delight, farmer's cheese, apple and so on and so forth, the "cozonac" filling is sure to bring back wonderful childhood memories. My grandmother is the absolute "cozonac" baker; her poppy seed and walnut loaves are unforgettable.
Although I am not a master at making "cozonac" this choice of vegan ingredients was sure to hit the mark. I found the dough texture to be just as flaky and the taste just as flavorful as the traditional "cozonac" dough.
for the dough:
4 cups all-purpose flour, room temperature
1/2 cups white granulated sugar, room temperature
2 Tbs dry yeast
sprinkle of salt
1 1/4 cups lukewarm orange soda
1/2 cups vegetable oil
the zest of one lemon
the zest of one orange
1 Tbs rum extract
for the filling:
1 1/2 cups ground walnuts, roasted
4 Tbs dark cocoa
1 cup raisins soaked in 4 Tbs rum
1 Tbs rum extract
4 Tbs white granulated sugar
1 cup chopped Turkish delight
for the topping:
1 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs white granulated sugar
In a large bowl, add the flour. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the sugar, yeast, salt and soda. Gently stir some flour in the liquid and allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Add the oil, lemon and orange zest, and the rum extract. Knead for 15 minutes into a smooth, pliable dough.
Keep the dough in the bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in warm/sunny spot and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow for the dough to double in size/at least an hour.
Meanwhile prepare two loaf pans with parchment paper. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the walnuts, cocoa, raisins, rum extract and the sugar for the filling, set aside.
When the dough has double in size, remove from the bowl and divide into 4 equal parts. With the help of a rolling pin roll each dough part into a rectangle the size of the loaf pans you are using/lengthwise.
I used two different designs for my loaves. For one of the designs I used two parts of the dough: one part I filled with half of the walnut, cocoa, raisin, rum, and sugar filling and one part I filled with half of the Turkish delight filling. I rolled each part and then braided the two parts together. I then placed the braid it in the previously prepared pan (see bellow picture, the loaf on the left).
For the second design I used the other two dough parts. I spread the remaining walnut, cocoa, raisin, rum, and sugar filling on one of the dough rectangles, then topped it with the other dough rectangle. I then spread the remaining Turkish delight filling and rolled the layers into a loaf so that I obtain a spiral when cut (see bellow pictures, the loaf on the right).
Cover the loaf pans with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and allow them to rest in a warm/sunny spot until doubled in size, at least an hour.
Brush the two loaves with oil and sprinkle sugar on top.
Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F, place the loaves inside and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, remove from the pans, cover with paper towel and then kitchen towels and allow to cool to room temperature. Slice into desired slices and serve.
The loaf on the left is the braid design and the loaf on the right is the spiral design.
P.S. Antique linen, knife and plate are from lovely Gaelle at https://www.instagram.com/gzbadboysantiques/