I know Easter is over and you are probably sick of Easter recipes. But in the religion of most of the Bulgarians, the Greek Orthodox, another calendar is used. Therefore the traditional Easter will be celebrated on May 5th, which is a coule of weeks ahead.
However, for last Sunday I made traditional Bulgarian Easter bread using a recipe from my aunt. It is an yeast dough, originally with butter inside. But after discussing it with my grandma on the phone, I decided to use oil instead of butter, so the baked cakes do not dry out very fast. This was a very important thing to me, because the amount of dough you get as a result is quite big and can usually be eaten for days.
In this post, I am publishing this traditional recipe the way I used it. I think it turned out quite delicious, just like I remember it from Bulgarian bakeries. Some of the instructions are not exact, like baking time or the amount of flour. But I am sure that if you have a little practice with yeast dough and a feeling for baked goods, you will succeed.
Traditional Bulgarian Easter Bread
350 g (12 oz) sugar
250 ml (1 cup + 1 tbsp) sunflower oil
350 ml (1 1/2 cup) milk
30 g (1 oz) yeast (or 2 pckt. active dry yeast)
all purpose flour, about 1,5 kg (12 cups)
1 pinch salt
1. Put 2 tbsp sugar, the milk, 1 pinch of salt and yeast into a bowl. Stir in about 90 g (3/4 cup) of flour, until you get a kind of thin mash. Let that sit at a warm place (e.g. over the heater) for about 100 minutes.
2. Add all the other ingredients and stir with hooks until everything is incorporated. Add flour until you can knead it. Add flour until the dough stops being sticky, add some tablespoons of oil from time to time, this will speed up the effect a little. The dough should look like a lot of parallel threads when you pull it apart. Let sit at a warm place until the dough has doubled its size, for abour 90 minutes.
3. Form the dough and place it into oiled pans. You can form braids, rolls, etc. Let sit at a warm place for about 60 up to 90 minutes, until the dough has doubled its size again. Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F).
Bake the breads until a toothpicker comes out clean. Put a baking sheet on top of them after 5 minutes of baking, this way they will not burn on top.