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Fluffy, soft and simply delicious tastes this sweet Easter bread. Russian Easter is hardly imaginable without the kulich. Here I show you a classic kulich recipe, according to which you can make it at home. It is not difficult at all to prepare the Russian Easter bread. You just need to allow enough time for the yeast dough to rise. You can find a detailed kulich recipe with exact quantities and step-by-step instructions below.
What is kulich?
Kulich is a sweet Russian Easter bread baked from yeast dough with raisins, dried fruits, candied orange peel or lemon peel. It has a round high shape and is decorated on top with sugar icing and colorful sugar sprinkles. Just like Easter curd pasha and colored Easter eggs, kulich is one of the traditional Russian dishes served at Easter. Many locals in Russia bring these dishes to church on Holy Saturday to be blessed by the priest before being eaten at home. Usually, people bake not just one kulich, but quite a few, which they then give to family and friends on Easter.
Kulich or paska?
In Russia, many people know kulich by the name paska. Especially in the countryside, this is what the Russian Easter bread is called, even though it is not an official name for it. So if you ever hear “bake paska” on Easter, or someone asks for paska recipe, now you know that kulich is meant by it.
Russian Easter bread – an eye-catcher on the Easter table
Russian kulich not only tastes incredibly delicious, it also looks pretty. With its round, tall shape, white icing and colorful sugar sprinkles on top, it immediately catches the eye, decorates any dining table and is guaranteed to delight the whole family and guests.
Yeast dough for kulich: with dry yeast or fresh yeast?
You can make the yeast dough for Russian Easter bread both with dry yeast and with fresh yeast. I make it with dry yeast – as the recipe says. If you use fresh yeast, you’ll need 11 grams of fresh yeast for the recipe given here below. You don’t have to mix it with flour, but dissolve it in lukewarm milk together with 1 tsp sugar.
Baking Russian Easter bread: the baking pan
Russian Easter bread is baked in round and tall vessels. In the past, people in Russia used tins of different sizes for this purpose. Such tins were collected and not thrown away. Even today some people bake kulich in such tins. But there are also kulich baking pans that you can buy. Locally, you can buy them in Russian stores, for example. In addition to non-stick springform pans, disposable paper baking pans for baking kulich are often offered. However, I recommend you to buy the kulich springform pans for permanent use. For the Easter bread recipe below, you’ll need a tall baking pan that’s about Ø 14 cm.
Storing Russian Easter bread
Usually, Russian kulich is baked a few days before Easter, as the yeast dough needs enough time to rise. So you can’t bake it right away on Easter Sunday in a rush. To keep your kulich from drying out until Easter Sunday, you should store it in an airtight container. Of course, if you have a tall lunch box that can fit such a tall pastry, it’s perfect. If not, you can store the Russian Easter bread in a large crock pot with the lid on. It is best to store it in a cool place, for example in the cellar or in a room where it is not too warm. After slicing, you can then store the Russian Easter bread by the piece in a lunch box. At room temperature, the kulich will keep for about 3 days. It can be stored in a cool place for up to 5 days.
This kulich is
- not too sweet,
- very tasty,
- with raisins,
- externally striking,
- perfect for Easter brunch,
- ideal for giving as a gift at Easter.
At the same time the recipe is
- traditionally Russian,
- with dry yeast (also possible with fresh yeast),
- simple, but time-consuming, because the yeast dough needs time to rise,
- intended for 1 Ø 14 cm kulich baking pan.
Baking kulich: the recipe
The exact quantities and step-by-step instructions, according to which you can make the Russian kulich at home, can be found below in the box recipe.
For the kulich recipe you need
- and flour.
All ingredients must be at room temperature. Eggs and butter should be taken out of the refrigerator beforehand. Milk must be lukewarm. You should warm it up before preparing the dough. I used dry yeast in the recipe. But you can also use fresh yeast. You will also need
- dried fruit
- and vanilla
are added to the yeast dough. As dried fruits you can take for example raisins. But also with candied orange peel or candied lemon peel the kulich is baked with pleasure. With a mixture of different dried or candied fruits the Russian Easter bread tastes just as delicious.
For the icing you still need powdered sugar, egg white and some lemon juice. Since the egg white is used raw, it is best to use an organic egg.
Decorate Russian Easter bread with colorful sugar sprinkles, which are spread on the icing.
How to make kulich at home
- Mix about half of flour and dry yeast. Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in lukewarm milk, add to flour-yeast mixture, mix to a soft pre-dough and let rise for about 20 minutes.
- Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Whip egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until fluffy and white. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold in.
- Add the egg-sugar mixture and softened butter to the pre-dough, add the remaining flour and knead into a soft, very sticky dough. Knead the dough for about 15 – 20 minutes and let it rise for 1 hour. Then knead briefly and let rise for another 35 minutes.
- Briefly soak raisins in hot water, drain thoroughly and mix into the dough. Grease and flour the baking pan, pour the dough into the pan and let it rise for 1 hour.
- Bake the kulich at 180 °C for about 25 minutes, remove from the baking pan and let cool.
- For the icing, whip egg whites, powdered sugar and lemon juice, brush the top of the Easter bread with it and sprinkle with colorful sugar sprinkles. Done!
How to make the best kulich: tips and tricks
- Instead of or in addition to raisins, you can use other dried fruits, candied orange peel or candied lemon peel. However, do not overdo it with the amount of fruit, otherwise the dough may not rise well.
- Instead of dry yeast you can use fresh yeast. For the recipe below you need 11 g of it. Dissolve the fresh yeast together with 1 tsp sugar in lukewarm milk.
- Instead of vanilla sugar you can use vanilla powder, vanilla extract or vanilla bean.
- It is important that the milk is lukewarm so that the yeast can work properly. If it’s too hot or too cold, your dough may not be able to rise.
- Also, all other ingredients for the yeast dough, such as eggs and butter, must be at room temperature, not cold.
- Yeast can work better with a small amount of sugar. Therefore, the pre-dough is prepared with 1 tsp of sugar.
- To give the dough the right consistency, add the second portion of flour gradually. The amount of flour indicated may vary. The dough must not be too firm, otherwise your kulich might taste too dry after baking. However, the dough must not be liquid either, otherwise it will not rise properly.
- It is important to knead the dough for about 15 – 20 minutes so that it becomes elastic and can rise better. This will make the Easter bread really fluffy at the end.
- The yeast dough should be left to rise in a warm place. To do this, place the mixing bowl with the dough on the second shelf from the bottom in the oven (do not turn on the oven!) and place a bowl of hot water on the bottom of the oven (keep the oven door closed afterwards). This way you create an ideal climate for the yeast dough – warm and humid.
- Since the kulich yeast dough contains a lot of sugar, butter and eggs, it needs enough time to rise and does not tolerate haste.
- To bake the Russian Easter bread, you need a kulich baking pan about 14 cm in diameter and about 12 cm high.
- Be sure to grease and flour the kulich baking pan thoroughly (tap off any excess flour) so that you can easily remove the Easter bread after baking.
- The baking pan should not be more than half filled with the yeast dough. It is best to fill about 1/3 of the baking pan with the dough. This will give it enough room to rise.
- Depending on the size of the baking pan, the baking time may vary considerably.
- To prevent the surface of the Easter bread from burning, cover it with baking paper after about 20 minutes.
- To check whether the kulich is baked, do a chopstick test. To do this, briefly insert a long toothpick into the center of the Easter bread and see if it stays almost clean after you pull it out. If the toothpick remains smeared in raw dough, you still need to bake the kulich. If only a few juicy crumbs remain on the toothpick, the Easter bread is ready. If the toothpick comes out dry, it could be that you baked the kulich too long, and it ends up tasting dry.
- Cooling the Easter bread on a pillow will ensure that the kulich keeps its proper shape.
- If your icing is too runny, add more powdered sugar.
- You should store Russian Easter bread in an airtight container so it doesn’t dry out. It will keep for about 3 – 5 days.
Different kulich variations
In addition to the recipe for the classic kulich, there are other delicious recipes for different Easter bread variations. Do you love juicy Easter bread? Then the kulich with curd or kulich with sour cream is just right for you! The yeast dough for this Easter bread is refined with curd or sour cream and tastes incredibly juicy. Or maybe you want to try a kulich that tastes even airier and softer than the classic one? Then bake kulich from choux pastry! A combination of yeast and choux pastry makes this Russian Easter bread very fluffy.
Have you baked the Russian kulich according to this recipe? I look forward to your result, your star rating and your comment on the recipe below, how you succeeded and tasted the Russian Easter bread.
More Easter recipes? Try also:
Kulich / sweet Russian Easter bread
- approx. Ø 14 cm large kulich baking pan
for the dough
- 100 ml milk (lukewarm)
- 2 eggs (room temperature)
- 65 g butter (room temperature)
- 100 g sugar
- 50 g raisins
- 8 g vanilla sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 4 g dry yeast
- approx. 260 g flour
- flour for the work surface
- butter for greasing and flour for dusting the baking pan
for the icing
- 50 g powdered sugar
- egg white of 1 organic egg
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- colored sugar sprinkles
Preparation of the dough
- Mix 120 g of flour and dry yeast. Dissolve 1 tsp sugar (from the total amount given) in lukewarm milk. Add the milk with sugar to the flour with dry yeast and mix to a very soft pre-dough. Cover the pre-dough in the mixing bowl and let it rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes.
- Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Beat egg yolks, sugar and vanilla sugar until fluffy and white.
- Beat egg whites and salt until stiff and fold into egg yolk-sugar mixture.
- Add the egg-sugar mixture and softened butter to the pre-dough, then gradually add the remaining flour and knead into a soft, very sticky dough. Then knead the dough for about 15 - 20 minutes, cover it with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Now knead the dough briefly and let it rise for another approx. 35 minutes.
- Pour hot water over raisins, let them steep for 5 minutes and then dry them thoroughly.
- Add raisins to the dough and knead it so that the raisins are evenly distributed in the dough.
- Grease the baking pan with butter and dust it with flour, tapping off the excess flour. Dust the work surface with flour, roll your hands in flour, shape the dough into a ball and place it in the baking pan (the pan should not be more than half full with the dough). Cover the mold with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.
- Bake the kulich in a preheated oven at 180 °C on the second rack from the bottom for about 25 minutes (For this, note the detailed tips and tricks for baking Russian Easter bread here at the top of the post). After baking, carefully remove the Easter bread from the baking pan, place it on its side on a pillow and let it cool, carefully turning it over and over during the process.
Preparation of the icing
- Whip egg whites, powdered sugar and lemon juice.
Decorating the Easter bread
- Spread the icing on the top of the cake, sprinkle it with colored sugar sprinkles and let the icing dry briefly.
- Instead of raisins, use other dried fruits, candied orange peel or candied lemon peel.
- Instead of dry yeast use fresh yeast. For the recipe you will need 11 g of it. They have to be dissolved in lukewarm milk together with 1 tsp sugar.
- Milk must be lukewarm.
- Add flour to the dough in portions. The amount of flour indicated may vary. The dough must be soft and very sticky.
- Be sure to knead the dough for about 15 - 20 minutes.
- Grease the kulich baking pan thoroughly before baking and dust with flour.
- It is best to fill the baking pan 1/3 and no more than half full with the yeast dough.
- Depending on the size of the baking pan, the baking time may vary considerably.
- To prevent the surface of the Easter bread from burning, cover it with baking paper after about 20 minutes of baking time.
- To check whether the kulich is baked, do a chopstick test.
- The cooling time of the Easter bread is not included in the preparation time.
- Note the detailed tips and tricks for baking Russian kulich at the top of the post.