‘Mucenici’ are a traditional Romanian baked sweet bread that is only cooked and served on March 9 to celebrate the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sabastia (know in Romania as ‘Mucenici’).
There is also a boiled version of the Mucenici and that is equally tasty.
Whether they are baked or boiled the Mucenici are shaped as the number 8 and both versions include lots and lots of walnuts.
This sweet bread is basically a yeast dough drizzled with honey and walnuts. They are so good that it’s hard to wait one year to eat them again.
- 8 egg yolks
- 8 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups milk
- 3/4 cups butter
- 8 TBSP oil
- 3 TBSP dry yeast
- lemon zest from 1 lemon
- a pinch of salt
- Egg-wash – beat 1 egg with 2 TBSP milk
- Garnish with honey and walnuts (2 cups of walnuts cut in small pieces)
- Sift the flour and set aside 2 cups
- Start the dough by dissolving the yeast with 1 cup of lukewarm milk, 1 TBSP sugar and 1 TBSP flour. Let it rise for about 10 minutes
- Bring 1 cup of milk to boil and pour it the 2 cups of flour you set aside, mix it with a spoon and place it over the rest of the flour and try it combine it as much as possible
- Using an electric mixer beat the egg yolks and sugar until they are fluffy, add the remaining milk. Add the oil one TBSP at the time while mixing on low speed, add the salt
- Once the yeast mixture doubles in size place it over the flour, knead it by hand to help combine the ingredients and place it over the egg and milk mixture.
- Change the electric mixer attachment to the dough hook and combine all ingredients, add lemon zest
- Melt the butter and add it to the dough, you will need to use your hands the knead and help combine the butter with the rest of the mixture. After that you can use the electric mixer again until the dough does not stick to the bowl and has a smooth consistency.
- Shape the dough in a ball, place it in a bowl and let it rise until it doubles it’s size.
- Turn the dough on a working surface and split it in smaller pieces the size of your palm. The easiest way I found to make these 8 shapes for the Mucenici is to roll each ball with your hand to get a rope and flat roll each end on the opposite side. Don’t worry, the dough rope does not have to be perfect.
- Place the Mucenici on baking paper on a baking sheet and let them rise for another 20 minutes – half hour. Maker sure you give them enough space to grow as they will double in size.
- Turn on the oven to 350 degrees F
- Bake the mucenici until golden brown, when they are almost done open the oven and brush the egg-wash on top. Let them back for 5 more minutes after you brushed the egg-wash on top
- Remove from oven and let the mucenici cool
- Drizzle honey and walnuts on top
Serve warm! Enjoy!
Here is also how the boiled Mucenici look like: