Kulich, a traditional Russian Easter cake Recipe
Kulich, a traditional Russian Easter cake
Flavors of Russia
Total time: more than 2 hours
Initial oven temperature: 110° C (210° F)
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Rising time: 1 1/2 hour
Baking time: 1 1/4 hour
Difficulty: Average
Chef's Note
The classic kulich was begun several days before Easter. It contained candied fruit, almonds, and raisins, flavoured with rum and saffron, and prepared like a bread. It was always baked in a special kind of pan - tall and cylindrical, sort of like a coffee can. When the cake was done, it was decorated with white frosting drizzled down the sides. On the side, spelled out in pieces of candied fruit, were the letters XB, representing the Cyrillic letters for "Christos voskres" -- "Christ is risen."

Often the kulich were carried to church and set out on long tables to be blessed by the priest. (In the old days, the priest would often make a "house call" to his wealthier parishioners to bless the food at home.)

The cake forms a hat shape, since the dough swells above the mould and becomes wider. Russians often trim off the brim and place it in the centre of a serving plate. The cake is then cut in half horizontally and sliced. These slices are arranged around the brim. Kulich is traditionally served with Fresh Cheese Pashka.

- 1.25 to 1.5 liters (5-6 cups) white flour
- 500 ml (2 cups) icing sugar
- 340 ml (1 1/3 cups) warm milk
- 3 packets of yeast
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) sultanas
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) blanched almonds
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) candied fruits
- 65 ml (1/4 cup) dark rum
- 225 g (1 cup) softened butter + 5 tbsp.
- 10 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. powdered saffron
- 500 ml (2 cups) icing sugar
- 4 tbsp. cold water
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
  1. Soak the raisins in the rum for 10 minutes; drain; mix the saffron with the rum and set aside;
  2. in a bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 tbsp. sugar in 125 ml (1/2 cup) warm milk; let sit 10 minutes; add the vanilla, egg yolks, rum and saffron;
  3. combine the flour, icing sugar and salt; make a well in the centre;
  4. gradually pour the yeast and egg mixture into the well, gradually blending in the flour to form a dough;
  5. place on a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic, while gradually incorporating pieces of the butter;
  6. place into a lightly greased bowl; cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled in volume;
  7. in a bowl, toss the almonds, candied fruit and raisins with 1 tbsp. of flour until well coated;
  8. punch down the dough; mix in the fruits and almonds and knead for 2-3 minutes;
  9. butter a rectangular bread tin; line with a sheet of buttered brown paper, with the unbuttered side facing out;
  10. place the dough into the pan; cover with a cloth and let rise 30-45 minutes until well risen;
  11. place into a preheated 110° C (210° F) oven for 15 minutes; increase the oven temperature to 180° C (350° F) and bake for 1 hour longer.


  1. Combine all the icing ingredients; pour slowly over the top of the cake so that it drizzles down in thin streams.
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