I was gearing up to make my usual Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday. However, while prowling around various cooking blogs, I came across a recipe for Kulich on While Chasing Kids. It definitely stopped me in my tracks. It looked fantastic! Kulich is a sweet yeast bread filled with spices, rum drenched raisins and apricots which makes an appearance on many Russian tables for Easter.
Always interested in trying something new, I was completely waylaid from my previous Hot Cross Bun mission and set out to make this enticing Russian Easter treat. The first difficulty I ran into, was finding suitable baking tins. Kulich molds are traditionally very tall cylinders. Apparently many folks who don’t have the actual molds will use an empty 2 lb. coffee tin. Another option is to use Panettone paper molds. I didn’t have either of those on hand. Instead I had a Le Creuset large 2.75 quart stoneware utensil crock and two Le Creuset coffee mugs. I decided that they would have to do in a pinch.
I love spices, so I altered the While Chasing Kids recipe a bit by adding some cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom. I also cut it in half since I didn’t think I would need so many Kulichi since my husband and I will not be getting together with the family this Easter and figured we might be hard pressed to consume 6 Kulichi all on our lonesome.
I changed the frosting a bit as well. I decided to use an egg white/confectioner’s sugar frosting. I prefer the taste of this frosting as well as the cloud like, marshmallowy appearance. I know some folks might be a bit leery of this since it does contain raw egg whites and there is a risk of salmonella. I decided to live on the edge a bit and took the risk. However, I have included another frosting option sans raw egg whites for those who are feeling a bit less adventurous.
I may have gotten a bit carried away with my decorations as well, but once on a roll I couldn’t be stopped! I used sliced almonds to try to create a shingled roof appearance for one of my smaller Kulichi. Sanding sugar and french dragees were featured on the next loaf. And for the big loaf I chose sanding sugar as well as melted chocolate, which I used to pipe on the traditional “XB” which is the Russian abbreviation for “Christ has risen”.
Once we cut into a loaf we were very pleased to find that the bread was absolutely delicious. Sweet, light and fluffy and packed full of moist rum soaked raisins and apricots. Yum! Perhaps we could have actually eaten all 6 Kulichi! I am so happy that Anastasia at While Chasing Kids shared her old family recipe. Even though we’re not Russian, I think this tasty bread will find a place on our Easter table from now on.
recipe adapted from: While Chasing Kids
Yield: 1 large Kulich and two smaller Kulichi
- 3/4 cup milk, lukewarm
- 12 grams dry yeast
- 3/4 Cup sugar, divided
- 500 grams all-purpose flour, divided
- 3 eggs, whites separated from yolks
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
- 7 grams salt
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 125 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled to barely warm
- 75 grams raisins, dried apricots, almonds (whichever you like, or all together. I used 25 grams raisins, 25 gram golden raisins, 25 gram dried apricots)
- 1/2 Cup Rum
- 2 egg whites, chilled
- 125 grams powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 200 gram confectioner’s sugar
- Orange juice from 1 orange
- 50 grams hot water
- sanding sugar, almonds, decorating icing ( as you wish)
In a medium mixing bowl combine milk, 1/2 tablespoon of the sugar, and dry yeast. Let ferment for about 10 minutes. Add 100 grams of flour, mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let ferment. Depending on the temperature around your house, it may take from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours for the poolish mixture to start heavy bubbling.
If using raisins, pour rum over them, and let soak while the dough is being prepared.
Butter your chosen Kulich baking tins and set aside.
Add nutmeg, ginger, cardamon and cinnamon to remaining flour. Stir to combine.
When the poolish is ready, with a hand-mixer beat the egg yolks with remaining sugar, salt, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl whisk egg whites so that they form a peak.
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, butter, poolish, egg yolks, and whites.
Cover with a plastic wrap, and let rise. When the dough doubles in size (50 – 90 minutes), add drained raisins and/or other dried fruit and nuts.
Fill the buttered molds with the dough, about 1/3 full. Cover the filled molds with a kitchen towel, and let rise for another 50-90 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, till golden brown.
Remove kulich from the oven, and let chill on a wire rack.
When the kulich is cool, prepare the frosting by whisking all the ingredients together into a smooth mixture.
Apply the frosting on top of your kulich, allowing it to drip.
Decorate your Easter Bread with “XB” and or other patterns, if desired.