Historical recipes: How to make Russian Easter sweet bread Kulich

In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. This month, it’s kulich, a rich, buttery Russian sweet bread usually eaten at Easter, but tasty at any time of year

Kulich is a rich, buttery Russian sweet bread usually eaten at Easter

Often baked in a coffee tin so its shape resembles that of the hats of Russian Orthodox priests, kulich remains a tasty treat after the restrictions of Lent. Traditionally it is decorated with the letters XB – Христос Воскресе (Khristos Voskrese – Christ is risen).

Ingredients

Bread:

– 20g dried active baking yeast
– 350ml warm milk
– 200g caster sugar
– 80g sultanas
– 50ml rum
– 750g plain flour, sifted
– 5 eggs
– 1tsp vanilla extract
– pinch of salt
– 250g butter, softened
– 80g almonds
– 80g chopped mixed peel

Icing (optional):

– 1 egg white
– 250g icing sugar
– 1tsp lemon juice

Method

Bread:

Dissolve yeast in 100ml warm milk, add ½tsp sugar. Soak sultanas in rum.

Sift 120g of flour into a bowl, add remaining 250ml milk and mix well.

Add yeast mixture, cover, and let it stand in a warm place for 30 mins.

Separate egg yolks and beat with sugar until fluffy and pale in colour.

Stir in the rum, add vanilla and mix. In a separate bowl, add a pinch of salt to egg whites. Whisk until peaks form and set aside.

Add egg yolk mixture to yeast mixture and mix. Fold in the egg whites. Add the remaining flour in small batches, mixing well each time.

Knead until dough separates from sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a flat surface and knead for 10 mins.

When pliable add butter, 50g at a time. Knead for 2 mins and form into a ball.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and wrap in a tea towel.

Leave to rise in a warm place for 90 mins. When dough doubles in size, remove and knead for 2 mins. Knead in sultanas, almonds and mixed peel.

Line a tin with baking paper, fill 1/3 full with dough and cover with a tea towel. Leave to prove until dough rises to the top.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Bake for 45–60 mins.

Icing (optional):

Mix raw egg white with icing sugar and lemon juice. Spread over the top of the bread and let it drizzle down the sides.

Difficulty: 4/10
Time: 220 mins

Recipe provided by allrecipes.co.uk

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to the print edition of BBC History Magazine? Alternatively, subscribe to the magazine digitally – on iPad and iPhone, Kindle and Kindle Fire, Google Play and Zinio.

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