Apr 4, 2010
The smell of Russian Kulich reminds you of that of a Russian church, where air is always filled with warm scents of labdanum and melting wax. The mix of cardamom, nutmeg, and ginger creates that special air of solemnity which accompanies this great Sunday. Looking at the towering Kulichi with their heads glazed with snow-white icing, you might think of Orthodox churches with their hemispheric cupolas.
The most wonderful thing you will discover about Kulich is that it will remain surprisingly fresh and moist for 5 to 7 days. This is an important quality of this Easter bread because the holiday lasts for a whole week, during which people visit their friends and relatives and give each other Kulichi.
The technique we use to colour eggs for Easter is boil them with onion peels. Onion peels give them a dark brick-red colour, and it’s absolutely safe. I also decorated a few eggs with non-toxic gold and silver.
500g wheat flour
40g fresh yeast
120ml milk, lukewarm
120g butter, room temperature
2 egg yolks
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cardamom
A tiny pinch of ground cloves
A small bag of vanilla sugar
50g golden raisins
150g dried apricots
½ cup almonds
2 egg whites, chilled
125g powder sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
½ cup diced roasted walnuts
Makes 2 medium-sized Kulichi (13cm height, 9cm diameter) + 2 small Kulichi (9cm height, 7cm diameter)
Combine yeast, milk, cream, and 1/3 of the flour.
Cover the dough and let it rise (it will rise quickly, in about half an hour).
In the meantime, blend egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and butter until pale and smooth.
When the first dough has risen (you will notice some bubbles and cracks on the surface), add in salt, the egg yolk&butter mix, and spice. Mix together and add in the remaining flour. Knead the dough until it is smooth and doesn’t stick to the hands.
Cover the dough and leave it to rise in a warm place. It might take 2 to 4 hours, depending on temperature and ingredients.
When the second dough has risen, add in diced apricots, raisins, and peeled almonds (scald them so that the skins will come off easily).
Grease tall cylinder-shaped baking forms with butter and place the dough into the prepared forms. The dough should take about only ½ of the space in the form as it will rise significantly. Leave the dough in the molds to rise for about 15 minutes.
Bake at a low heat for around an hour. Control readiness with a wooden stick.
While the Kulichi are baking, whip the egg whites with sugar and lemon juice until very firm (you should be able to turn the container with your icing upside down).
Top the Kulichi with the icing when they’ve cooled to room temperature, and sprinkle with diced walnuts.
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