Russian Easter Kulich
This Russian Kulich uses left over sourdough starter to add flavour, but the lactic acid also acts as a preservative so it extends the shelf life of your bread by a few days. It is very similar to an Italian panettone in many ways, but the word Kulich actually originates from the Greek Kollix, which means a roll or loaf of bread. It is an Easter bread and seems to have become part of the Russian Easter tradition through the Orthodox Church. My recipe is for three breads, but they are medium in size, freeze well, store for four or five days and make wonderful gifts. Get the kit of key ingredients and the cases here.
Makes: 3 x 500g cakes
- 175g unrefreshed sourdough starter (1:1)
- 150ml milk
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tbsp Ndali vanilla extract
- 2 lemons, zested or 2 tsp of BakeryBits lemon essential oil
- 650g Type “00″ Soffiata flour
- 2 level tbsp Osmotolerant yeast
- 200g caster sugar
- 240g room temperature butter, cut into 1cm cubes
- 200g raisins soaked in warm water for 20 minutes, then thoroughly drained
- 240g primavera or rainbow peel
EquipmentThe dough will rise a third again in the proving, and again during the baking.[/caption]
If you don’t have any unrefreshed sourdough starter ready you can leave it out of the recipe. The unrefreshed starter is in this recipe there to add flavour.
- Add the sourdough starter, milk, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, flour, yeast and caster sugar into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer.
- Using a dough hook, turn the mixer on to the highest setting and beat. You need to do this for at least ten minutes perhaps even fifteen: don’t be tempted to turn your mixer off sooner as this dough needs this amount of heavy mixing to activate the gluten completely.
- Fifteen minutes later, drop the butter cubes in to the bowl while still mixing. Cutting the butter into cubes helps the dispersal into the cake mixture. Mix for a further five to ten more minutes; this ensures that the butter is evenly dispersed and the dough becomes silky in texture.
- When your dough is nearly ready the sound of the mixing changes from a general mix to a more rhythmic sound, as the dough becomes elastic and it sticks together - and the dough comes away from the edges of the bowl. The end result should be silky and stretchy. When you pull the paddle up you should be able to look through sections, a bit like an like oval window pane, and you will be able to see through the dough. Add the raisins and peel and mix for another minute.
- Place the paper panettone case on a baking tray (this way you do not have to move them when they are risen which might knock the air out as you put them in the oven) and divide the dough evenly between the three cases. It will only fill up between a third to halfway of the cases, so don’t worry if it looks a bit meagre. The dough will rise a third again in the proving, and again during the baking.
- If your kitchen is warm then prove for about 2 hours, or, if your kitchen is cooler, leave for an extra 30 minutes to an hour. (Your dough needs to double in size).
- About half an hour before the dough finishes proving preheat your oven to 175°C / gas mark 4. When the dough is proved the kulichs can be transferred on the baking tray into the preheated oven. Cook for 30 – 35 minutes. Insert a skewer to check for doneness; if it comes out with dough still sticking to it leave for a bit longer.
- Cool on a wire rack. Once fully cooled make the icing by whisking the icing sugar and the egg whites in a free-standing mixer. The icing needs to be thick and glossy to coat the kulichs. However you may need to add 1-2 tbsp of cold water to achieve a spreadable consistency – if required, add a tiny amount of water at a time. Finally, decorate with icing, cocoa and dark chocolate buttons.