One of the most famous traditional desserts served on Easter is Russian Kulich, which is referred to as a cake, but is actually a moist, sweet bread. While there are many variations, Kulich is usually made rich with lots of butter and eggs, as well as dried and/or candied fruit and nuts. It is baked in a tall can (such as a coffee can) to form a cylinder and decorated with white frosting which runs down the sides. The decorations, candied or dried fruit and nuts, can either be sprinkled over the top decoratively, or can be arranged to form the letters XB, which in Cyrillic means “Christ is Risen.”
Kulich is most often served with a sweet cheese dish called Pashka, which is spread on each slice.
The dough for this version of Kulich is made in an automatic bread machine because it is so much faster – the machine does all the work; however, it can also be made the traditional way and instructions are given below.
Bread Machine Russian Kulich
Serves about 24
1 cup water
1/3 cup instant nonfat dry powdered milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup currants
3 tablespoons amaretto
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, (more or less)
Strips of lemon peel
- Place the dough ingredients in the pan of the automatic bread machine in the order given.
- Set the machine to the dough cycle and start.
- Mix the cherries, currants, and Amaretto in a bowl; set aside to soak.
- After the dough has mixed for 30 minutes, add the cherry mixture and the almonds.
- When the cycle has finished, transfer the dough to a floured pastry cloth.
- Shape the dough into a round ball, pinching the ends together on the bottom of the loaf.
- Spray a 2 pound coffee can with non-stick spray.
- Cut a piece of parchment the size of the can and place it at the bottom of the can; spray the parchment with non-stick spray.
- Cover the dough with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 2-3 hours; the dough will not have doubled in bulk.
- Place the bread in a cold oven and turn the oven to 350°.
- Bake about 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
- Glaze: Mix the powdered sugar, softened butter, and enough lemon juice to make a smooth glaze that is thick enough to cover the top of the kulich and run down the sides a little. (If it is too thin, the glaze won't stay on the top of the loaf; if it is too thick, the glaze won't run down the loaf which is traditional.)
- Decorate the top with cherries, currants, almonds, and lemon peel strips.
- To make the dough without a bread machine: Mix the cherries, currants, and Amaretto in a bowl; set aside to soak.
- Place the water and dry milk in a large mixing bowl.
- Dissolve the yeast in the mixture, then add the remaining dough ingredients, adding enough flour to form a soft dough.
- Knead on a lightly floured pastry cloth or counter until smooth and elastic.
- Pat the dough into a rectangle, spread the fruit/Amaretto mixture over, and roll up; knead the fruit evenly into the mixture.
- Let rise until doubled in bulk; punch down and knead in the fruit and Amaretto mixture, then proceed according to the recipe above.
Variations: You may use any combination of candied peel, raisins, dried cranberries, or candied pineapple or cherries instead of or in addition to the cherries and currants.
Note: the dough may be divided into thirds and baked in 26 ounce spaghetti sauce cans (or equivalent). The baking time will be shorter.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 170 Calories from Fat 34
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 20% Protein 8% Carb. 70%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 4 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Cholesterol 24 mg
Sodium 185 mg
Total Carbohydrate 30 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 3 g
Vitamin A 3% Vitamin C 2% Calcium 0% Iron 2%