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slices of walnut roll with a side of milk
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4.74 from 38 votes

Walnut Roll (Cozonac cu Nuca)

Sweet Walnut Roll known as "Cozonac cu Nuca" is a traditional Romanian sweet bread made with raisins and walnuts or pecans enjoyed at Christmas and Easter.
Prep Time3 hrs
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time3 hrs 35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Romanian
Keyword: cozonac cu nuca, traditional romanian recipes, walnut bread, walnut roll
Servings: 36 slices
Calories: 264kcal

Ingredients

For Dough

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 2 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup butter unsalted, melted
  • 3 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs separated
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For Filling

Other

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 egg beaten, for egg wash
  • 3 tbsp sugar

Instructions

For Dough

  • Add the raisins to a small bowl and pour the rum over them. Let the raisins soak up the rum and plump up while preparing everything else. 
  • In another bowl add the yeast and warm water, stir it a bit and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes to activate. The yeast should bubble up. If you don't see it bubble up, then the yeast is old. Do not proceed because your bread will not rise.
  • In a sauce pan add the milk, butter, lemon zest and sugar. Heat it over medium-low heat just until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved. Do not boil it, it just needs to be hot. If it gets too hot it can kill the yeast.
  • Drain the raisins. To the bowl of your mixer add the flour, the 5 egg yolks, vanilla extract, the milk mixture, yeast mixture and raisins. Using the dough hook mix everything for about 5 minutes until everything is well blended together and the dough should come off the sides of the bowl. The dough will be a softer dough and somewhat sticky to your hands. The more you mix the dough the fluffier it will be.
  • Take a large bowl and oil it with about 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and use the other tbsp of vegetable oil to rub over the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free environment. Let the dough rise until it doubles in size, could take 1 to 2 hours.
  • Great 3 loaf pans with oil or butter. My loaf pans are 12 x 4.5 x 3 inches, but the regular smaller loaf pans work just as well.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, divide it in 3 equal pieces. On a big surface where you can work the dough, oil the surface, we will not use flour here, I find that oil works better. Take one piece and roll it out using a rolling pin, into a rectangle that's about 1/2 inch in thickness and the width of your loaf pans.  Spread about 1/3 of the nut mixture over the dough. then roll it up jelly style. Place the roll in the prepared loaf pan. Repeat with remaining dough pieces. 
  • Cover the loaf pans with a clean damp kitchen towel, place in a warm, draft free environment and let the loaves rest until doubled in size. 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
  • Place the loaves in the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown. To test if they are done inside, insert a toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean the loaves are done.
  • Let the loaves cool for about 10 minutes in the loaf pans. Run a knife around the edges of the loaves, to make sure they didn't stick, then remove the loaves from the loaf pans, transfer them to a wire rack and let them cool completely before slicing into them and serving.

For Filling

  • While the dough is rising add the walnuts or pecans to a food processor and pulse a few times until the nuts are finely ground. Add the sugar and cocoa powder to the processor and pulse a few more times until everything is well incorporated. 
  • In the bowl of your mixer add the egg whites and mix until stiff peaks form. Fold in the nut mixture. Place this in the fridge until ready to use.

Notes

The rum in this recipe can be replaced by whatever is more convenient to you. For example: brandy, whiskey, or bourbon would also work.
If you wouldn't like to use alcohol at all, you can plump the raisins up in juice or some water.
To make the dough rise faster and create that warm, draft free environment for the dough to rise in, I usually turn the oven on to 200 F degrees, turn it off, then place the dough in the oven with the door closed. 
Once the loaves have cooled completely, I usually wrap them in plastic wrap and store them just on the counter for up to 4 days. You can also place them in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them, just make sure they are tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and you can freeze them for up to a month.
This recipe will yield 3 loaves.
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 81g | Calories: 264kcal | Carbohydrates: 35.7g | Protein: 6.2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4.1g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 54mg | Potassium: 120mg | Fiber: 1.5g | Sugar: 13.1g | Vitamin A: 200IU | Vitamin C: 0.8mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1.8mg