Russian Easter Bread
Kulich (кулич) Easter Bread (Paska) 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 Kulich recipe is made with a bread machine mixing the dough. BUT DONT CLICK AWAY!!! I have a White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Paska recipe which has instructions for a traditional way of making the dough. Not a bread machine in sight, check out the video below, and click on they link to read all about it.
Where did Kulich originate?
Stay with me, 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. It's a popular Russian and Orthodox Easter Bread with roots in the Byzantine empire. Don't confuse it with another festive Easter cheesecake called Paskha (Пасха), which is made with Farmers 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'll call my recipe 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.
How to make Kulich
This Kulich dough recipe is prepared in a Bread Maker using the dough setting. I like to avoid the manual kneading and rising of dough, I just want things easier. The Bread Machine does all the hard work for me, making the dough ready to bake. I just throw in all the ingredients, press dough and walk away! The machine mixes and proofs the dough for me. All that's left is to place them into the molds.
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. You can also use the traditional bake without fan, that might work better for you. Not all ovens bake the same. Make sure you bake on the lower rack of the oven.
I've never been a huge fan of the traditional raisins in Kulich. Instead I used a mixture of raisins, dried cranberries and dried blueberries. I think it's so much tastier than plain raisins. You can skip the raisins completely and use only dried berries.
Kulich is always baked in a cylindrical shape, quite often you can use a tin can from coffee, or even pineapple juice tin. I found non-stick silicone molds on Amazon, which are easy to use. Some people use a panettone paper mold to bake Kulich. Any of these methods work just fine.
Glaze for Kulich Easter Bread
Finally you want to glaze your Kulich with icing sugar. Traditionally the glaze is just icing sugar and milk. I always add vanilla extract, because the flavor is so good. Icing sugar glaze can be a bit runny. I have a new Egg White Glaze in my Paska recipe, which is thicker and not as messy. Either glaze will work, just remember to add sprinkles as your finishing touch.
This is a delicious Easter Bread tradition, and if you have leftover Easter bread, 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, and the easiness of the bread machine dough recipe. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Kulich Easter Bread (Paska)
- 1 cup very warm milk
- 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk room temperature
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ½ cup salted butter melted
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups flour sifted
- 2 teaspoons of bread machine yeast
- ½ -⅔ cup mixed raisins dried cranberries, and dried blueberries
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- ½ 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 ½ 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 ⅓-1/2 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 colorful candy sprinkles.