Russian Easter Bread Recipe (Kulich)

Kulich and easter eggs
Nikolay Kovalchuk / Getty Images
Ratings (18)
  • Total: 85 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 55 mins
  • Yield: 1 kulich (16 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
271 Calories
12g Fat
37g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 kulich (16 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 271
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 72mg 24%
Sodium 380mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 13%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Protein 5g
Calcium 77mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Russian kulich is a sweet yeast-risen bread typically served at Easter. It just wouldn't be Easter Sunday in Russia without a piece of this tall, cylindrical bread that has been blessed by the parish priest.

Another standby for Easter is paskha, a sweet molded cheese dessert that is often spread on a slice of kulich.

Kulich is a cross between a bread and a cake with a slightly sweet crumb. As with most foods, the recipe varies from family to family. But it usually has raisins, nuts, and candied citrus rind. You'll need a 2-pound coffee can or kulich pan to bake it in.

This recipe calls for 8 egg yolks and only 2 egg whites so freeze the leftover egg whites and save them for recipes like meringue torte.

Ingredients

  • For the Yeast Sponge:
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup water (warm)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk (scalded, cooled to 110 F)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • For the Dough:
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 8 large egg yolks (room temperature; reserve 2 egg whites)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3 1/2 all-purpose cups flour
  • 1/3 cup raisins (golden)
  • 1/4 cup almonds (slivered)
  • 1/4 cup candied orange rind (chopped)
  • For the Glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons water (warm)

Steps to Make It

While there are multiple steps, this Easter bread recipe is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for baking. 

Make the Yeast Sponge

  1. In a large bowl, combine yeast, water, 1/4 cup white sugar, and milk. Mix until the yeast and sugar have dissolved. Stir in 1 cup flour until well blended.

  2. Cover and let stand in a warm place for 1 hour.

Make the Dough

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, 1/2 cup white sugar, and egg yolks. Add yeast-flour mixture, combining thoroughly. Add vanilla, cardamom, salt and enough of the 3 to 3 1/2 cups flour to make a soft dough. Stir in raisins, almonds, and orange rind.

  2. In a small bowl, beat 2 reserved egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the dough. Knead by machine or hand until a smooth and elastic dough forms, about 3 to 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning once to coat both sides. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.

  3. Coat a 2-pound coffee can or kulich pan with cooking spray. Punch down dough and knead a few times. Place it in the prepared pan, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until dough reaches the top of the can.

Bake the Kulich

  1. Heat oven to 400 F. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake another 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester or long toothpick or thin skewer comes out clean.

  2. Remove kulich from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Unmold from the can and cool on a wire rack. While still slightly warm, drizzle glaze (see below) over the top of the kulich.

Make the Glaze and Serve

  1. While kulich is baking, prepare the glaze in a small bowl by combining the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, almond extract, and enough warm water to make a smooth, runny glaze.

  2. Pour over the top of the kulich allowing it to run down the sides of the cake.

  3. To serve, cut off the crown and slice base into rounds. To keep any leftovers moist, replace the crown.