From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This delicious bread is called Kulich. It is a Russian sweet bread with a frosted crown that is associated with Orthodox Christian paschal tradition. The bread is shaped like the hats worn by Orthodox priests and it is baked in tall, cylindrical tins that are twice as tall as they are wide. It tastes much like a good Italian panettone. Kulich, however, has a symbolic importance that other sweet breads do not. It is part of the Russian Orthodox Easter vigil services. On the Saturday before Easter, the bread is taken to church to be blessed by priests. The bread is served only between Easter and Pentecost. While blessed Kulich is eaten before breakfast, the rest is served for dessert with a sweet cheese called paskha. A recipe for paskha can be found here. Paskha is pressed in a mold that embosses the cheese with the letters X. B., the abbreviation for Xristos Boscrecie, or Christ is risen. There is a prescribed ritual for slicing the bread. The crown is removed and placed in the center of a serving platter. The remaining loaf is cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise and finally arranged on the plate around the crown. I was introduced to Kulich many years ago by Russian programmers who were on staff and this is the recipe they shared with me. . This is the first time I made it myself and while it is not difficult to do, shaping it is a bit tricky without proper molds. My gerry-rigged mold sprung a leak, so to speak, so dough was allowed to escape from one side. My Kulich has a carbuncle on one side and a dome that slants. We'll do better next time. The bread is fantastic and I do hope you'll try it. Here's the recipe.
Russian Easter Bread...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
Bread2 packages yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup scalded milk (click here to see how to scald milk under note)
6-1/2 to 7- 1/2 cups flower cups flour
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Glaze1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream
1) In a large bowl dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk cooled to 120 degrees and 1-1/2 cup flour, stir until smooth. Cover and let rise until doubled. Punch down.
2) Add beaten eggs and egg yolks, butter, raisins, vanilla, honey, salt, sugar and vegetable oil. Continue to add remaining flour until a moderately stiff dough is formed. Knead well in the bowl until dough is smooth and elastic.
3) Grease 2 tall 1 pound coffee cans. Fit each can with a collar of greased parchment paper (2 inches) to allow for height. Fill each can with equal amounts of dough. Cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour.
4) While dough is rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. When dough has doubled, transfer loaves to oven and bake bake until they are well-browned, about 1 hour. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing bread from cans. Cool on a rack until loaves are at room temperature.
5) Combine sugar, vanilla and cream in a small bowl and beat until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake. Yield: 2 loaves.
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