Kulich (Russian Easter Cake)

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These cakes are traditionally cooked and eaten at Russian Orthodox Easter to break the fast. Kulich are similar to Italian panettone and are often accompanied by pashka, a sweet, fruity cheese. They do take a little bit of effort and time (the total time includes 3 1/2 hours of rising time), but it is definitely worth it. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

2
2
Prep Time:
1 hrs
Cook Time:
45 mins
Additional Time:
12 hrs
Total Time:
13 hrs 45 mins
Servings:
16
Yield:
4 kulich

Ingredients

Kulich:

  • 1 cup golden raisins

  • 1 tablespoon vodka

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1 pinch saffron threads

  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

  • ¼ cup lukewarm water

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided

  • 1 cup white sugar, divided

  • ½ cup butter, melted

  • ¼ cup orange blossom honey

  • 1 medium lemon

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 3 large eggs, divided

  • ½ cup sliced almonds

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened

Frosting:

  • 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar, or more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds, or as needed

Directions

  1. Make the kulich: Place raisins into a bowl, drizzle with vodka, and let soften, 8 hours to overnight.

  2. Heat milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until very warm but not simmering. Stir in cardamom and saffron threads. Remove from the heat and let stand until lukewarm.

  3. Meanwhile, mix 1 teaspoon sugar into lukewarm water in a bowl until sugar dissolves. Stir in yeast and let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.

  4. Transfer yeast mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add milk mixture, 1 cup flour, and 1/2 cup sugar; beat until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

  5. Zest lemon onto waxed paper. Juice lemon into another small bowl and reserve for frosting. Separate egg whites and yolks, reserving 1 egg white for frosting.

  6. Mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar, melted butter, honey, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt together in a bowl. Pour into the risen dough and beat until combined. Beat in 3 egg yolks and 2 egg whites.

  7. Mix in 2 1/2 cups flour. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup flour onto a work surface and knead dough until it holds together, about 5 minutes. Knead soaked golden raisins and sliced almonds into dough until well distributed.

  8. Form dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl; turn dough around in the bowl several times until coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

  9. Coat the insides of four clean 14-ounce cans with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Line cans with parchment paper.

  10. Punch down dough, knead a few times, and divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball, place into a can, and press dough lightly against the inside bottom of can. Cover cans with a cloth and allow dough to rise to the top of the cans, about 45 minutes.

  11. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  12. Place a baking sheet into the preheated oven. Place the cans of dough upright onto the baking sheet and bake until kulich are risen and lightly browned, 45 to 50 minutes.

  13. Remove from the oven and let cool in the cans for about 15 minutes, then gently remove from the cans and finish cooling on a wire rack, 25 to 40 minutes.

  14. Make the frosting: Beat reserved egg white in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. Beat in confectioners' sugar until stiff peaks form. Beat 1 teaspoon reserved lemon juice into frosting; save remaining lemon juice for another use.

  15. Frost tops of the cooled kulich and sprinkle with toasted almonds.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

356 Calories
9g Fat
63g Carbs
6g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 16
Calories 356
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 53mg 18%
Sodium 63mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 63g 23%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 36g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 47mg 4%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 187mg 4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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