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Ukrainian Kulich Easter Bread

Kulich Easter Bread is a Ukrainian bread made especially for the holiday and is traditional within the Orthodox Christian faith. It’s 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

This traditional Easter bread is a lightly sweetened, egg-glazed, dense bread, much like a cross between brioche and challah. Or perhaps a German stollen or Italian panettone.

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, it 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”).

More Easter Recipes

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Closeup view of decorated Ukrainian Kulich Easter Bread

Ukrainian Kulich Easter Bread Recipe

Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Kulich is a traditional Ukrainian Easter bread, served between Easter and Pentecost. A delicious sweet bread with fruit and nuts and decorated for the holiday.

Ingredients

  • 6 - 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packets)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups warm milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped blanched almonds
  • 6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Coat a large bowl with oil and set it aside.
  2. Warm the milk to 110 degrees F (or just warm to the touch). Dissolve 1 teaspoon of the sugar in 1/2 cup of milk. Sprinkle the yeast on top and set it aside in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes until the yeast is bubbly.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or large bowl) whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Then add the yeast mixture, eggs, softened butter, remaining milk, vanilla, zest, raisins, and almonds. Mix until a smooth, elastic dough forms; knead by hand or in the machine for 4 minutes. Add additional flour as needed until the dough pulls away from the bowl; about 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough will be soft and somewhat sticky. I like to then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball.

First Rise

  1. 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 to 90 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, grease two 8-inch by 4-inch round baking dishes or use paper molds.

Shape the Loaves:

  1. 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. Place into the prepared pans or molds.
  2. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until dough doubles in volume; 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the Kulich:

  1. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Transfer the finished loaves to a wire rack to cool and decorate.

Make the Glaze:

  1. When the bread is at room temperature, make the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups of powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of orange or lemon juice. Add water to thin if necessary or additional powdered sugar to thicken.
  2. Pour the glaze over the cooled Kulich. Traditionally, the bread is topped with Easter-colored sprinkles before the glaze sets.

Notes

Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioner sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange or lemon juice

Decorations

  • almonds, toasted
  • sprinkles

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