Kulich is a Russian and Ukrainian Easter bread, traditional within the Orthodox Christian faith, eaten between Easter and Pentecost, which always occurs seven weeks after Easter day. Kulich is very similar to another regional bread called “Baska.”
Easter Kulich Bread
Both kulich and baska are traditionally baked in tall cylindrical, tin-like coffee cans. When cooled, kulich is decorated with white icing, which drizzles down the sides, and colorful candies and flowers. The cylindrical bread is sliced from the top down.
What is Kulich Served With?
Historically, kulich is served with cheese paska which is an enriched mixture of curd cheese, spices, nuts, dried fruit, and sugar. The cheese paska is molded into a pyramid shape and is often decorated with the symbol XB (from the traditional Easter greeting of Христос воскресе, “Christ is Risen”).
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 oz yeast (2 packets)
- 1 1/2 cups milk, tepid
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 eggs, divided
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped blanched almonds
- 7 cups flour
- Coat a large bowl with oil and set aside. Proof the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water with 1 tablespoon sugar for 5 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast mixture, flour, remaining sugar, salt, one egg, butter, vanilla, lemon zest, raisins, and almonds. Mix on low speed until a smooth, elastic dough forms. Add additional flour as needed until the dough pulls away from the bowl.
- Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides with oil. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in volume; about an hour.
- Coat two 8-inch by 4-inch round baking dishes with remaining butter and lightly dust with 2 tablespoons flour, shaking out any excess. Set aside.
- To shapes the loaves: Punch down the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Divide it in half and shape each half into a smooth round ball. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until dough doubles in volume; 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Bake the bread: Beat the remaining egg and lightly brush the top of the loaves. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F and continue to bake until the loaves are golden and sound hollow when tapped — about 40 more minutes. Transfer the finished loaves to a wire rack to cool and decorate.
- 1/2 cup confectioner sugar
- 1/2 lemon, juice only
- almonds, toasted