Paska (паска) bread or Kulich (кулич) bread is a Russian and Ukrainian festive bread baked at Easter, and is traditionally eaten only on Easter Sunday. The Kulich is a symbol of the atonement of Christ on the cross. The frosted top of the bread drizzles down, which reminds us of Christ’s crown of thorns. Sometimes you will find the letters XB which are the Russian initials for Христос воскрес (Christ is Risen).
This next part might be a bit confusing. This sweet bread has 2 names, it’s called Paska in the southern Russia and Ukraine but it’s called Kulich in central Russia and the rest of Russia. This is not to be confused with another festive Easter dish called Paskha (Пасха), which is made with tvorog (farmer’s cheese).
Now to make this even more confusing, Paskha (Пасха) is how you say the word ‘Easter’ in Russian. So you can eat Paska (bread), or eat Paskha (cheesecake), all during the Paskha (Easter) festive season. Now that I’ve thoroughly confused everyone, I’m going to refer to my recipe as Kulich, which is also Paska. Ok, I’ll stop!
Traditionally Paskha Russian Cheesecake is spread on a piece of Kulich and is eaten together, for the real Russian/Ukrainian Easter experience (my Paskha recipe is made with white chocolate and macadamia nuts and is so delicious!). Kulich is a sweet, yeast risen dough, containing dried fruit (raisins), almonds, candied fruit, and spices (saffron, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla). Depending on your taste preferences, you can vary the flavours, I like plain vanilla.
I’ve never been a huge fan of raisins, but instead I used a mixture of raisins, dried cranberries and dried blueberries, which I think is so much tastier than plain raisins. Kulich is always baked in a cylindrical shape, quite often you can use a tin can from coffee, or even pineapple juice, but I non-stick silicone molds, which are easy to use. I’ve heard of some people use a panettone paper mould to bake Kulich.
All my dough recipes use a Cuisinart Bread Maker for the dough setting, I really like to limit the kneading and rising of dough, I just want things easier. I use a fan forced oven, so the tops seem to turn golden brown quickly, but I just cover with foil and keep baking until the inside is baked. Because this is yeast dough, the height can collapse, so be careful not to slam any doors, until it’s baking and set.
This is a delicious Easter tradition, and if you have leftovers, you could make an awesome Bread n Butter pudding (but we rarely get there!) Everyone thinks that their Kulich recipe is the best, I hope you enjoy mine. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Paska or Kulich Easter Bread (Кулич)
- 1 cup very warm milk
- 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup salted butter melted
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups flour sifted
- 2 teaspoons of bread machine yeast
- 1/2 -2/3 cup mixed raisins dried cranberries, and dried blueberries
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 3 tablespoons 45ml milk
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
Place ingredients, in the order listed, into your bread machine and select the dough program. Should take about 90 minutes to complete the dough cycle.
Remove the dough onto a floured surface. It will be very sticky. When you knock down the dough, to make it less sticky, add about 1/2 cup of flour and lightly work the dough. You don't want to properly knead it, but really just to keep it from sticking to the table.
Grease the cans/silicone cylinder with cooking spray. Divide the dough, so that the can/cylinder is filled only 1/3-1/2 from the top with dough (it will rise the rest of the way). Cover with cling wrap and a tea towel, place in a warm place for 1-2 hours, and allow to rise to the top of the cylinder. Be very careful not to bump, slam doors, and even keep away from drafts. This can cause the Kulich to collapse.
Place into a 180°C/350F preheated oven and bake from 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your container. If the top is starts to burn, cover with foil and continue to cook. Using a thin wooden skewer, pierce the Kulich, and remove the skewer to test if it is done. If dough sticks on skewer, keep in oven for 5 more minutes and check again.
Allow to cool on a baking rack. When it is room temperature, Mix the icing sugar, milk and vanilla together. Pour the glaze over the Kulich and top with colourful candy sprinkles.