Being an international student in the final year and having assignments due in just a week after the break, means one thing – 99% chance that you’ll stay at uni for Easter, instead of flying back home. Unless, you want to get yourself in an assignment madness and spend 2 weeks with no sleep :) Let’s say my friends and I decided to keep our sanity and we stayed in Worcester during the Easter break, enjoying our time with dissertations and International Marketing assignments. However, this didn’t stop us from enjoying Easter day, trying to recreate the atmosphere that we would have had at home.
In our home country, Bulgaria, we paint eggs and we bake very delicious Easter bread, called ‘kozunak’. We didn’t have time to prepare it, but we had time to paint 15 boiled eggs!
It is great fun, as you can get creative with how you want your eggs to be painted and there are many different ways for making your eggs look funky!
On Saturday, we used the paint that my flatmate’s mum sent us. The tradition is that the first egg is always red and the oldest woman in the house draws a cross with it on the forehead of each member of the family, with special attention to the children, so that they are healthy throughout the whole year.
A variation is that the mother touches her children’s cheeks with the egg for health. What we did was to draw a cross with the egg on each other’s cheeks and forehead, so that we can stick to the tradition as much as possible.
After about half an hour, we had all eggs ready!
The tradition says that on Easter the family gathers together and everyone picks an egg to do some ‘egg-fighting’. The person whose egg remains unbroken is the winner, or ‘Borak’ and this means that the person will enjoy good health and luck. The winning egg is kept until the next Easter.
When we went to see our friends on Sunday, we brought the eggs with us, so that everyone can have an egg and we can do some egg-fighting. None of us had the ‘borak’ and we put the eggs into the meals we prepared on the day.
Now, if you want to try making a ‘kozunak’, here’s a recipe (and a challenge) for you:
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 1 large lightly beaten egg
- 3/4 cup scalded milk cooled to 110 degrees
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup rum
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- About 9 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces melted butter
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon n
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- Combine the yeast, sugar, 1 egg and warm milk in a large bowl or stand mixer, let it stand, covered, in a warm place for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the raisins with the rum in a small bowl.
- Heat 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan until it warms up and set aside. Combine the melted butter and oil in a small bowl and leave it aside. Separate 2 of the eggs, reserving the yolks for the egg wash, and in a separate small bowl beat the whites with the other 3 whole eggs and vanilla. Start adding warm milk mixture, then butter-oil, the eggs, and drained raisins to the yeast mixture – make a good mixture out of it! :)
- Then you can start adding the flour (you might not use all of it) and knead until you get a smooth dough – it will be sticky. Transfer to a large oiled bowl and cover it with greased plastic wrap and let rise until it gets double sized (1 to 2 hours).
- Open the wrap, punch down the dough and let it rise again, covered, for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Punch down dough and knead for 1 or 2 minutes. Divide it in halves. Divide each half into 3 pieces and braid on parchment-lined sheet pans. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise about 30 minutes. Brush with reserved egg yolks and sliced almonds. Bake about 30 minute or until golden brown and the temperature inside the oven is 190 degrees. Take it out from the oven, remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.
Good luck! :-)