Welcome to 12 Days of Christmas. Starting from today, every day, at 11am GMT, we will be sharing a new recipe with you to help you prepare for this festive period. In this series, we will be featuring breakfast ideas, snacks, appetisers, main meals and desserts from various cultures in order to introduce you to new dishes as well as to give you a variety of options or plant-based meals you can make for yourself or your vegan/vegetarian loved ones. Some of the recipes will also be alcohol-free, nut-free and gluten-free for those with particular dietary requirements or preferences.
To kick this off, here’s our first recipe – a nut-free cozonac.
Cozonac is a Romanian sweet bread which is usually eaten during Christmas and Easter. Traditionally, it is made with eggs, milk and butter which enrich the dough. However, for this recipe, we have substituted those ingredients with suitable and affordable plant-based alternatives. We suggest that you do not substitute those alternatives with other alternatives such as flax eggs instead of aquafaba as that will change the texture and density of the bread.
The shape and shininess of this bread are so attractive and foretell the delicious taste experience offered by the bread. However, they hide the surprise inside the loaf which is the curving effect of bands of raisins and chocolate toasted oats, which is what we have used to replace the chocolate walnuts found in traditional cozonac in order to keep this bread nut-free whilst not compromising on a nutty flavour and texture.
Without further ado, here’s our nut-free cozonac recipe.
250ml Room Temperature Oat Milk (substitute with any nut-free milk)
2.25tsp Active Dry Yeast
725g All-Purpose Flour
1 Lemon, zested
6tbsp Aquafaba, reduced to 4tbsp over a gentle heat then cooled
7.5tbsp Neutral-Tasting Oil (such as vegetable, canola or rapeseed oil)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
2tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1-2tbsp brown sugar
4tbsp Aquafaba, reduced to 2tbsp over a gentle heat then cooled
- In a bowl, combine the raisins with the rum and set aside.
- In another bowl, combine the oat milk with the yeast 2tbsp of the sugar and 2tbsp of the flour. Set aside for the yeast to activate (approximately 15mins).
- In a mixing bowl, combine the rest of the flour and sugar with the salt, lemon zest 7.5tbsp of oil, 6tbsp of aquafaba, vanilla extract and yeast mixture.
- If you are using a standing mixer, knead this mixture using a dough hook for approximately 10mins or until the dough springs back immediately after gently pressing a finger on it.
- If you do not have a standing mixer, need to dough on a clean flat surface for approximately 20mins or until the dough springs back immediately after gently pressing a finger on it. You might need to oil or flour on your surface and hands to prevent the dough from sticking onto them.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover the bowl and place it in a warm draft-free place such as an oven, cupboard or pantry for 1-2hrs or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Pour the oats into a pan and toast them over a gentle heat until they start to brown and develop a nutty smell.
- Transfer the toasted oats to a bowl and combine them with the cocoa powder and brown sugar.
- Adding a splash of oat milk at a time, combine the mixture until a mouldable consistency is reached. Alternatively, opt for a thick paste-like consistency.
- Once doubled in size, divide the dough into two equal pieces and place one of them on a clean flat oiled surface.
- Using your fingers and hand, flatten and stretch the dough into a rectangle with a thickness of about 1/2cm.
- Spread half of the toasted oat mixture evenly onto the dough followed by half of the raisin-rum mixture.
- Pick up the edge of the dough and in a sushi-style, roll the dough ensuring the mixtures stay within the roll.
- Press the ends of the dough together to seal them and fold them under the dough. Gently roll the dough log over the surface a few times to seal the end of the roll and slightly elongate the log set it aside.
- Repeat the last 4 steps with the other half of the dough.
- Place each dough log side by side. Take one log and cross it over the other. Take the other log and cross it over the crossed part of the first log forming a twist out of both logs. Press the ends together to seal them.
- Prep a loaf tin by rubbing some oil into it to ensure your cozonac doesn’t stick to it at any point.
- Gently transfer the twisted dough to the pan folding the ends of any excess dough under to ensure the dough fits into the tin.
- Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rice for 30mins while the oven is preheating to 175°C.
- After 30mins, brush ~1tbsp of the aquafaba onto the visible surfaces of the dough and place it in the oven to bake for 1hr. Halfway through the baking time, brush on the last tbsp of aquafaba onto the visible surfaces of the dough. When done baking, the top of the dough should be dark brown.
- Take the dough out of the oven, let it cool for 15-20mins in the tin then gently take it out of the tin and let it cool completely before you slice into it (unfortunately, someone couldn’t wait till then before slicing into the one in the photos hence a little messed up part in the slices. Don’t be like that person. Let the cozonac cool completely before you slice it and)