Russian Easter Bread (Kulich – Кулич)


Today is Orthodox Easter!  S Paskhoy Vas! 

How to celebrate Easter Russian style

In my childhood home we started Easter morning by eating пасхальные яйца (decorated eggs) and Кулич (Kulich bread).  Kulich is a lightly sweetened yeast-risen bread that has a mushroom shape – tall stem with round top.  The top of Kulich is called korona (crown) and is reminiscent of Christ’s crown of thorns. When we bought our Kulich from the old grandma’s at a market it was usually decorated with letters XB, which stand for Христос Воскрес (Christ has risen) and sometimes my grandma took it to church to be blessed.  Kulich is believed to have many mystical properties.  One of them is a promise of happiness for the coming year, if you eat it just right.  The right way of eating Kulich meant cutting off the top and then slicing it horizontally, replacing the mushroom top to keep the happiness in (or moisture, depending on how mystical you are).  Most Russians buy or make Kulich that is made with candied fruits, citrus peels and nuts.    


My Kulich recipe evolved to it’s current state over the years with many modifications.  The one unfortunate fact of life this year is that my kids refuse to eat any candied fruits, nuts or citrus peels (an important part of any Kulich), so they only let me decorate the top of one Kulich with orange peel. We are all great lovers of Lemon flavor though, so we were very generous with it.  

It has become my Easter Tradition to realize the day before Easter that I forgot to buy Kulich shape AGAIN.  In the absence of the form, I have to use metal cans.  Finally, I realized that cans have been working so great, I don’t have to buy any special equipment at all.  
Kulich (bread machine dough)
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon lemon flavor
2 Tablespoons oil
2 eggs (or 1 large egg)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup candied fruits and peels, without syrup (optional)
1/3 cup chopped nuts (optional)
2 teaspoons lemon and/or orange peel
2 1/4 teaspoons Yeast
At 4 she is an expert
  1. Add (or ask your helper to add) all ingredients to bread machine pan in the order suggested by manufacturer. You can either add fruits and peels and almonds with flour or add them later at the “Additions” beep, if you have one.  Select dough/manual cycle.  When cycle is complete, remove dough from machine to a lightly floured surface.  If dough is too sticky, add a tiny bit of flour.  My dough (below) doesn’t have any candied fruits or nuts because my kids won’t have them (sigh). 
  2. Coat the inside of your clean cans with butter and line with parchment paper.  Who needs expensive Kulich form anyway.  This recipe is good for four 12-ounce cans.  Here I’m using a 10-ounce and 12-ounce cans, and the rest of dough was just enough for 12 muffins.


  3. Divide your dough between your cans.
  4. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place into a can.  One important thing to remember is that it’s going to rise A LOT!  It happened to me more than once that my Kulich was so puffed up and top heavy that it fell over instead of standing pretty on a plate. 
  5. Cover cans with plastic wrap or towel and allow to rise to the top of the can.  
  6. If you left some dough for a muffin tin, butter it or line with paper and then fill it about half way up.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F.
  8. Place the cans of dough upright into oven on baking sheet.  Throw muffins in too, if you have space.  I have a convection oven and it bakes everything super fast.  So my muffins were ready in 15 minutes and Kulich in 25.  You might have to adjust your cooking time.  It’s ready when it’s lightly browned.
We can not get enough of this stuff
Now the most exciting part 
I like to mix a couple of different frostings. This way we can have a variety.  Today we made three.
Butter-Lemon Frosting  (Kulich 1)
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon butter (melted) 
1 Tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon flavor
Mix it with a spoon in a small bowl.  Frost generously.  I added some orange peel on top for decoration, while frosting was still wet and sticky and then refrigerated Kulich.  Then a few hours later I went back and added XB for Христос Воскрес.  
Lemon Frosting (Kulich 2)
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoons lemon flavor
Mix it with a spoon in a small bowl.  Frost. I used lots of sprinkles on this one for a festive touch. 

Vanilla Frosting (cupcakes)
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon food coloring (we used red)
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl with a spoon.  Frost generously.   Kids used lots of sprinkles.  
And now it’s time for a feast!

 Have you ever tried Kulich?  What did you think?  

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