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Kulich – Russian Easter bread

by Karen Burns-Booth
Kulich – Russian and Greek Orthodox Easter Bread

Kulich – Russian Easter bread

PT40M

PT2H

Why not try?

Easter is a very important festival in the Christian calendar, and alongside the religious rites and rituals of the celebration there are a number of foodie traditions, too. As well as the classic Easter lamb lunch. the British have hot cross buns, the French have brioche de pâques, the Germans have osterbrot and Russia and other Orthodox countries have kulich. Kulich are sweet, egg and butter enriched bread buns baked in special tall tins. Once cooked, the kulich are then decorated with icing, candied fruit and nuts – think a taller hot cross bun that is iced, and you have the picture.

Sweet breads are very popular throughout Europe as special Easter fare; at the end of Lent, it’s time to make merry on the tea time table again, and after several weeks of enforced fasting where luxury ingredients such as eggs, milk, cheese, sugar, cream and chocolate were abstained from, it seems to be a very popular tradition to make rich sweet breads that are studded with fruit and that are aromatic with warm spices.

Kulich are a good example of this sweet bread tradition. They're essentially a brioche dough which has dried fruit added, decorated with lemon-spiked icing and a scattering of glacé fruit, nuts and cake sprinkles as the final flourish. If, like me, you don’t have a special kulich baking tin, then just use some tins from canned food such as baked beans or tomatoes – wash them thoroughly first, of course, and make sure there are no sharp edges along the top.

Note: If you have a bread machine, you can start the dough in the machine up to the second proving stage. Add the dried fruit 5 minutes before the end of kneading or when your bread machine beeps.

Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

1
Begin by washing and drying 6 tin cans. Butter the tins well and line each with some buttered baking paper into each one
2
Sieve the flour, salt, ground mixed spice and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the sugar and yeast
3
Add the beaten egg and tepid milk to the flour and mix together to a form a soft, pliable dough
4
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Carefully work the mixed dried fruit and mixed peel into the dough until well combined. Knead lightly for 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic
5
Shape the dough into a ball and place it into a buttered mixing bowl, then cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour to prove
6
Turn out the proved dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back the dough. Shape it into a ball again and return it to the bowl, then cover again with the tea towel and set aside for a further 30 minutes to prove
7
Place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll them into a long cylinder shape and put them into the buttered and paper lined tins. Cover the tins with a tea towel and set aside to rise for 25–30 minutes
8
Preheat an oven to 240°C/gas mark 8
9
Once the buns have risen in the tins to about ¾ of the way up, place them on a baking sheet and bake for 25–35 minutes, or until pale golden-brown and sound hollow when turned over and tapped on
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10
Turn the Kulich out of the tins onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before icing
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11
To make the icing, add the lemon juice to the icing sugar, spoon by spoon, until you have a thick but runny icing that that will cover the kulich buns and dribble a little down the sides. Spoon the icing over kulich and scatter the glacé cherries, toasted almonds and sprinkles over the top
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