November 17, 2010

Holiday Sunflower Bread

This bread is named "Sunflower bread" because it looks like a sunflower. It is a traditional Bulgarian bread made for special occasions, like engagement parties, weddings, baby showers, or Christmas.
 I got the recipe from my mother in law and I've been making the bread for years.


  • 2.5 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 500 g yogurt
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 kg + flour. I used whole wheat organic flour from Costco.
Bread preparation:
  • 125 g soft butter
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 yolk
In a small bowl mix the ingredients for the sponge. Cover with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place for 15 minutes, till the yeast rises.
In a big bowl, mix the eggs with the yogurt, salt, oil, vinegar, and pour the yeast mix to it. Start adding flour to the mix till you form the dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead the dough to form a smooth, round ball. You may need more than 1kg of flour, depending on the amount of the used liquids. The dough should be easy to knead, not very soft, but not very hard either. Place the dough in the bowl again, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile soften the butter in a microwave.  Grease a 13" pan with butter. 
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter.You'll need a rolling pin to make the bread.

Cut some dough into a size of a tennis ball and set it aside. Divide the rest of the dough into three equal pieces and form three balls.

 With the rolling pin roll the 3 balls into 10-inch circles.

Spread  one third of the soften butter onto the first circle and place the second circle on top of it. Spread the other third of the butter on the second circle. Place the third circle on top of the second. 

Roll the three circles into a big 1/4 of inch thick circle.

Spread the rest of the butter over it. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the circle into 16 equal wedges.

Roll each wedge up, starting from the wide end and following one of the edges, as shown on the images below. 

Lay the rolls into the pan with the pointed tip to the center, spaced equally from each other.
Lightly press the small ball, you put aside at the beginning, into a small circle. Place the circle on the middle of the pan. The small  circle represents the sunflower head and the rolls are the leaves.

Beat the egg yolk with 1/3 tsp olive oil and lightly brush the bread with the mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size and dough barely springs back when poked with a knuckle, 45 to 75 minutes.

Adjust the oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake until golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Cover the pan with foil for the last 5-10 minutes, if needed,  to prevent the bread from burning and make sure it is well baked.

Cover the bread with a towel and let it cool in the pan for 1/2 hour before serving.


  1. This was so tasty!!! Can't wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas to have it again ;)

  2. Please offer an alternative to the yogurt, dairy, ingredient. It's inclusion eliminates the bread being served with any meat items if the diners are Kosher.

    1. I would try water. The bread texture would change a little bit, but it'll be still delicious.
      Thanks for the comment.

  3. Stuart - I was wondering that too. But 500g is a lot of yoghurt, and there's no water in the recipe. It might work with soy milk, or soy curd, made with a veg. gelatine.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, PatF. Please let us know if you try this.

  4. Know this is an old post but I just found it ;) Can you bake this free form? I don't have a 13 inch round pan....

    1. I never tried that, my guess is the bread would loose its form.