Kulich is a Russian sweet bread, similar to panettone or stollen, served during Russian Orthodox Easter celebrations. It is baked in tall, cylindrical tins (see note below), and when cooled is decorated with white icing drizzled down the sides, colourful flowers, and XB, the traditional Easter greeting meaning "Christ is Risen". You will need to start preparations the day before serving. Don't forget to soak the sultanas.
- warm milk - 1 1/2 cups
- dried yeast - 2 x 7g packets
- sugar - 1 teaspoon
- plain flour - approx. 8 cups, sifted
- salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- softened unsalted butter - 250g, diced
- icing sugar - 2 cups, sifted
- eggs - 6, separated
- sultanas - 200g, soaked in 1/4 cup dark rum and 1 teaspoon vanilla
- mixed candied peel - 1/2 cup
- blanched almonds - 1/2 cup, chopped
- powdered saffron - 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
- nutmeg - 1/4 teaspoon
- cinnamon - 1/4 teaspoon
- cardamom - 1/4 teaspoon
Combine the milk, yeast and sugar in a mixing bowl and set aside until frothy. Add 4 cups sifted flour, using a dough hook to knead it in (or tip it out of the bowl and knead it on a lightly floured bench). Form into a ball, dust with flour, cover with a cloth and leave to prove (rise). When doubled in quantity, knead in the salt, butter, icing sugar and egg yolks until well combined, then knead in the remaining flour.
In another bowl, whisk the egg white to soft peaks. Using a slotted spoon, stir a large spoonful of whites through the dough. Fold through remaining whites. You should have a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea-towel and leave to rise again until doubled.
Knead in the remaining ingredients.
Preheat oven to 180degC. Lightly grease 4 x 900ml date roll tins (8.5cm diameter/20cm height) and line with non-stick baking paper, extending the paper 2 - 3 cm outside the tin. Fill moulds one-third full. Leave to rise until two-thirds full, then bake for 45 - 60 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer - if it comes out clean the cakes are cooked. Carefully slide each kulich out of its tin onto a soft tea-towel. Gently roll each one as it cools to keep the cylindrical shape. Don't stand them upright until they have cooled and firmed.
When cool, top with icing white frosting.
To make the frosting: combine sifted icing sugar with enough water to make a paste, then drizzle over tops of each kulich.
Tip: You can also bake the kulich in two Aussie billy cans or 2 x 2kg dried milk tins. Grease well and line with non-stick baking paper, allowing a 4cm collar at the top.