Kulich is a sweet Easter bread and a part of the Russian Orthodox Easter tradition. Hubby’s family is Russian Orthodox, so I was quite excited to take up this tradition in our house. The bread is similar to the Italian Panettone.
Traditionally, the Kulich, along with coloured hard boiled eggs is blessed by the Priest before the Easter Mass. It is then eaten as the first food of the day for the week following Easter, topped with Paskha.
1/3 cup sultanas*
2 tbsp vodka*
1 cup milk
Pinch saffron threads*
2 tsp dry yeast (or 1 sachet)
½ cup caster sugar
3 tbsp honey
Zest of 1 lemon or orange*
500g plain flour, may need a bit extra for kneading.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Allow sultanas to soak in vodka overnight.
Heat milk to lukewarm. Add saffron threads, yeast and 2 tsp of the sugar. Leave yeast to foam for about 15 mins. Meanwhile, melt butter in saucepan with honey and lemon zest. Allow to cool slightly.
Combine flour and remaining sugar. Pour in yeast mixture, butter mixture, sultanas and eggs. Mix to combine well. It is a sticky dough, but should be almost elastic. This can also be done by hand in a big bowl. Flour bench and tip dough onto bench. Knead until smooth and elastic. Put dough into an oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size. This for some reason, always take a few hours.
Butter and line cans with baking paper. Preheat oven to 170°C. Remove dough from bowl and knead for a few minutes. Divide dough into balls and fill cans about 1/3 full. Cover and allow dough to rise 3/4 the height of the can. They will rise to the top of the can in the oven. Bake in oven for about 30 mins or until cooked through.
Leave to cool in cans for about 5 minutes, then remove from cans and put on a baking rack to cool.
Decorate with a simple glaze icing made from icing sugar and lemon juice. Enjoy slices topped with Paskha or butter.
I always make more than I need and they last well wrapped in foil in the freezer. It makes a delicious bread and butter pudding.