Sweet Bread with Honey and Walnuts
Romanian "Mucenici"

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Sweet Bread with Honey and Walnuts

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360 gr Plain Flour
1 Egg
7 gr Yeast dried
70 ml Milk
60 ml Water
40 gr Butter melted
80 gr + 1 tbsp Crystal Sugar
50 gr Walnuts
a pinch Salt
1 Egg Yolk
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 tsp Vanilla Sugar
3 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
5 tbsp Water

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  • 2 h
  • Serves 4
  • Medium


We have a lot of holidays in Romania and the majority of them are religious, but they are also related to very good food. On the 9th of March we celebrate the “40 Mucenici”, 40 christian soldiers who lived in the time of Licinius, a Roman emperor who fought Constantine and the christians. The story goes that a general, Agricola, tried to force the 40 men to renounce their faith and bring a sacrifice to the idols, but when they refused he sent them prison. Seeing that the men kept refusing giving up their faith, Agricola took them to a frozen lake where they were told to strip off their clothing and stand, while warm baths were set up along the shore, along with fires, blankets, clothing and hot food and drink, in order to tempt them. Incapable to bare anymore, one of them ran towards the shore, while the remaining ones screamed asking for God’s help, and than a light came down from the sky and warmed them up. Seeing this, one of the guards took off his clothes and joined them. One version of the story says that by morning they were frozen, while another one says that they were still alive when they were taken back to prison and tortured to death. Anyways, this is how they became The 40 Martyrs of Sebaste.

And along with this story comes a Romanian tradition that I really like. We bake 40 “mucenici” (the Romanian word for christian martyrs) out of sweet dough, coated with honey and walnuts and people usually bring them to church for the blessing and share them with the family and poor people. Here, in the Netherlands, no one knows about this tradition, and we are not religious people, but this is a nice and tasty tradition that we like to keep in our new family. And they smell so good and taste so delicious, that it’s just impossible not to want to bake them.

TIPS:  This recipe is for a very small amount, because we are only 3 people at home and I didn’t want to waste any food, but you can easily multiply the quantities. 

1 bread is a little bigger than a hand palm.

Don’t forget that they will expand in the oven, so leave enough space between them.

Soak in syrup when they are hot.

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In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer mix 1 tbsp of warm water (40-43 C) with 1 tbsp of sugar and the yeast. Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes until dissolved.


Add on top of yeast mixture the egg, the warm milk (40-43 C), the salt and the melted butter and whisk until combined. Pour the flour on top and knead, using your machine with a dough hook attached, for 7-8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you knead by hand use a spoon to incorporate the flour in the wet ingredients and gradually start kneading.

If the dough is too sticky add flour spoon by spoon until you can "operate" it using your hands. Be careful, the dough has to be a soft, so don't put too much flour in it.


Let it rise covered with plastic foil in a warm place for 1 & 1/2 hours or until it doubles it's volume.


When it's done remove from the bowl, knead for 2-3 times and divide in 8 separate pieces. Take two pieces at a time and using your hands roll two long strings, as thick as a pen. Do not use any flour! If it get's sticky put a little bit of oil on your hands. Roll the two strings together and connect the ends making a circle. Gently twist the circle and make an eight, making sure that the ends are on the bottom. Continue with the other 3. Cover with a cloth and let them rest for another 15 minutes.


Preheat your oven at 180 C. Poke the egg yolk and brush your sweet breads with it, before you put in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is brown.


While the "saints" are in the oven grab a sauce pan and mix the honey, water and brown sugar (I chose brown sugar because it gives a beautiful color, but you can use regular sugar as well). Let it simmer until it thickens, around 5 minutes.


Remove the breads from the oven, brush with lots of syrup and top with walnuts mixed with 1 tbsp of sugar. Let them cool off a little bit and devour them!


I am Adriana and I love food, as you can probably see from what I cook. I like to bake and I like to experiment with new tastes, and my 2016 resolution is to try to cook healthy and special meals every day.

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