Easter Baking: Kulich
As promised, here’s the full recipe for the Russian Easter bread, Kulich. You can also find it at my corner of RangemasterUK
Kulich – Russian Easter Bread
Most countries have some kind of sweet bread which is a traditional part of Easter feasting. From the boiled egg-topped Mona de Pascua in Spain and the dove-shaped Colomba di Pasqua in Italy to our own Hot Cross Buns these breads are steeped in references to the Easter story and the family time that often surrounds it.
Kulich is a predominantly Russian bread and features cardamom where we might use cinnamon. It is baked in tins so that it bursts out over the top and traditionally each one is drizzled with white icing and brightly coloured sprinkles before being blessed by a priest. I have to admit that they smelled so good when they came out of the oven that I forgot to do that bit, but can confirm that they are very good buttered whilst still hot from the oven. I found that they were a little firm if eaten cold a day later but a quick re-heat revived them. This recipe is adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s.
250g strong white bread flour
250g plain wholemeal flour
200ml milk, warmed to hand-hot
100g butter, cut into large chunks
100g caster sugar
1 sachet (7g) of fast action yeast
pinch of salt
60g candied peel
30g dried cranberries
40g chopped nuts (ideally almonds)
Grated zest of 1 lemon (I used a couple of drops of lemon essence as I didn’t have any lemons)
Crushed seeds of 2 cardamom pods
140g icing sugar
4 tbsp hot water
4x empty, washed 200g baked bean tins (not tomato tins), greased and lined with baking parchment that comes 1 inch above the top of the tin
OR 2x 800g tins if you can happen to have them, prepared as above. OR a 12 hole muffin tin
In a microwaveable container cover the cranberries and sultanas in plenty of water and heat on full for 2 mins. Leave to stand for 30mins (you could also do this on the hob). Drain well.
Put all the flour, butter, sugar, yeast, salt (other side from the yeast), candied peel, lemon zest, crushed cardamom seeds and drained dried fruit in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. Mix a little, then add the milk and eggs and mix with the dough hook slowly for 10 mins until smooth. If you’re doing this by hand be warned it’ll get very sticky.
Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a plastic bag or clingfilm. Leave to rise until doubled in size. It should take about an hour.
Preheat to oven to 170C (160 fan)
Once risen, knock the dough back a little by giving it a very quick knead on a floured surface.
Divide into as many pieces as you require. If you are putting it into tins you’ll want to shape it into a slight sausage shape in order to get it into the tin. Don’t worry too much if you have to push it in though.
Fill the greased, lined tins with the dough and place in the over. Bake for 45mins, check on them about 25mins in – if necessary cover the tops with foil.
If you’re going to glaze them wait until they’ve cooled a little but are still warm to touch. Mix the sugar and water well and drizzle over.