It just wouldn’t be Easter Sunday in Russia without Kulich. This tall, cylindrical sweet bread is the centerpiece of a traditional Easter feast. Not to be confused with paskha, a molded sweet cheese dessert made with farmer cheese and dried fruit.
Kulich is a delicious combination of bread and cake. Soft and buttery, with a hint of vanilla, and raisins. Glazed to perfection and topped with rainbow sprinkles — it’s what makes those long Orthodox masses worth the wait.
The sweet smell of fresh Kulich on Easter Sunday is a more than a food experience. It’s an honest to goodness ritual. After spending hours waiting for the dough to rise, and baking it to just the perfect golden brown color, it first has to make a trip to church.
In Russia, Kuliches are blessed, along with easter eggs and other Easter foods, at the midnight mass. According to tradition, a freshly baked Kulich is placed into an Easter basket and taken to church for a spritzing with Holy water and Holiday blessings.
So how do you make Kulich?
There are thousands of recipes online claiming to be the most “authentic” or totally “traditional”. While RussianFoodDirect.com offers Kulich for purchase around Easter time, we wanted to share a recipe that can be made at home. After experimenting with several recipes from popular blogs, our favorite was the one from Natashaskitchen.com.
We hope you enjoy the making Kulich as much as you’ll love eating this delicious sweet Holiday treat.
10 cups of all-purpose flour
2 cups + 2 Tbsp of warm milk
1 package of active dry yeast
2 cups sugar
6 eggs (room temperature)
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1,5 cups raisins
For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Panettone paper molds
In a large Mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups + 2 Tbsp warm milk, 6 eggs, 1 Tbsp yeast, 2 cups sugar, 2 sticks melted butter (just warm, not hot!), ½ tsp salt, ½ cup sour cream and 1 tsp vanilla. Whisk in 4 cups flour. Your batter will be thick like sour cream. Cover and let it rise in a warm place or a warm oven. About 100˚F for 2 hours.
Add 5 more cups of flour; one cup at a time or until the dough no longer sticks to your hands (it will still feel sticky but wont’ stick to your fingers). I find it’s easiest to fold flour in with a silicone spatula. Dough should be soft. Stir in 1 to 1½ cups raisins. Cover and let dough rise another 2 hours in a warm oven (100˚F).
Divide dough evenly into the three paper baking molds; try not to mix it or stomp it down too much. Let dough rise uncovered in a warm 100˚F oven for an additional 2 hours or until the molds are almost full. Remove from the oven and preheat oven to 350˚F.
Bake at 350˚F for 30-35 minutes in the middle of the oven until the top is golden brown. Let cool to room temp or just warm and then tear off the wrapper.
Once the Breads are at room temperature and wrappers are off, get your frosting ready. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups powdered sugar with 3 Tbsp lemon juice. Add a little water if it’s too thick or a little more powdered sugar if it’s too runny. Pour the glaze over each cooled Easter bread. Traditionally, these are topped with colorful sprinkles before the glaze sets.