The strange hard-to-translate name kozuli or kozyuli stands for fancy pastry figurines of nanny-goats, deer or other animals with a symbolical meaning. The word kozulya (sg.; kozuli – pl.) is derived from the Russian koza meaning “she-goat”. She-goat was a symbol of prosperity in the house, and making of kozuli symbolized family’s well-being.
Originally kozuli were a folk delicacy of Pomory (“coast-dwellers” - inhabitant of White Sea and Barents Sea coast), who made them only for Christmas. Presently kozuly are made in the Arkhangelsk Region and Murmansk Region, and the Urals. Kozuli are also considered to be a version of spice-cakes. Kozuli can also be used as toys – children like playing with them before eating.
Earlier Pomory baked kozuli only once a year, for Christmas. Kozuli were then made of rye pastry. Baked and decorated figurines of nanny-goats, rams and cows symbolized «heavenly herds», i.e. the clouds. Kozuli was also the name of special breads shaped as wreaths and baked on Semik - the feast of the seventh Thursday after Easter.
Nowadays kozuli are made in the Arkhangelsk and Murmansk Regions (for example, in Varzuga Settlement). Kozuli are thought to be the symbol of Pomorye (seacoast). Traditionally kozuli are baked in these areas for Christmastide and Kolyda. Besides, kozuli are customarily on personal holidays, such as house warming, wedding and child’s birth. It is believed that kozuli being in the house protect it from evil spirits. Therefore baked and painted kozuli are never eaten at once and never thrown away.
Inhabitants of the Urals adopted the tradition of making kozuli from Pomory. There kozuli are also customary for Christmas. However, the Ural dwellers preferred to mold them in the shape of reindeers, cats (since the cat was also considered a symbol of the house), angels, fur-trees and little houses. The ready baked figurines served as tasty decorations of the Christmas fur-tree.
How to Make Kozuli
Kozuli are made of specially prepared pastry. Pieces of pastry are hand-molded into figurines of various animals — nanny-goats and goats, deer, lambs, cows and bull-calves, as well as cats, seals and birdies. Molded figurines are baked in a stove or an oven on an oiled baking sheet. Kozuli are also considered a regional version of Russian spice-cakes. Modern kozuli can be sorted as cutout spice-cakes as regards the mode of modeling.
Pastry recipes vary a lot, with many families having their own recipes, which are preserved in families for decades. Important is a special component – sugar syrup that is boiled and caramelized to amber-brownish colour.
Kozuli are usually colourfully decorated with icing made of whisked egg whites with addition of various natural colouring agents.
In the Urals kozuli pastry is prepared with addition of honey and decorated with icing of different colours: white, pink and blue.
Recipe of Kozuli
600 g sugar
½ tspf soda
½ tspf salt
150 g butter
1 tbspf spices - a mixture of cinnamon, carnation, and cardamom
1.3 kg flour
5 tbspf sugar powder for icing
Step 1 Melt a glass of sugar on low fire to brownish colour. When all the sugar is melted, accurately pour in 1 glass of boiled water, slowly stirring it. Add 2 more glasses of sugar. When the mix starts boiling and sugar has been dissolved, remove it from fire and let it cool down.
Step 2 Whisk 1 egg and 2 egg yolks well. Mix the cooled down sugar syrup with eggs, spices, butter and most of the flour. Mix to a smooth paste.
Step 3 Put the remaining flour on the table, take the pastry and knead in the flour. Finally, the paste should be stiff and not stick to the hands. Put the paste into a packet and keep in a fridge for 1 hour.
Step 4 Roll out the paste into a layer 5 mm thick. Cut out figurines. Lay the cakes onto the oiled baking sheet.
To bake at the temperature of 180 degrees centigrade to readiness (to gold yellow colour).
Step 5 Cool down ready figurines and cover with icing of different colours. How to make sugar icing: whisk two egg whites with sugar powder. Pour the icing into several cups and add colouring agents. Use cowberry or cranberry juice, cocoa, turmeric, etc.
Step 6 Put the icing into paper cornets (which are easily rolled of triangle paper pieces) and paint the figurines. Children will surely have fun doing that! Put painted kozuli away to dry up.