Russian Kulich (sweet Easter bread) is fluffy, fragrant, soft and aromatic. This recipe is healthier and less time-consuming than the original. This kulich doesn’t go stale for more than 10 days!
Kulich (sweet Russian Easter bread) is one of the most essential dishes in Russian Easter menu, alongside with naturally dyed Easter eggs and creamy vanilla Paskha. This year I made a simplified version of the traditional Russian kulich, which came out to be just as good as the original, much less time-consuming and a bit healthier!
Kulich is always tall and cylindrical, often with raisins or candied fruits. It’s usually decorated with white glaze and colourful sprinkles on top. The dough is very fluffy and melts in your mouth. Actually, kulich was baked in Russia long before the emergence of Orthodox Christianity, but nowadays it is only associated with Easter. Kulich had emerged from an old Slavic tradition of a spring ritual baking and had a sacramental meaning. In ancient Russia, people baked bread two or three times a year, for the most important holidays associated with the change of seasons: either for the New Year’s Eve or in early spring, to mark the beginning of the agricultural year, or in the autumn, to celebrate the harvest. This tradition, like many others (see Maslenitsa) has been successfully adopted by the Orthodox church.
Just like Paskha, kulich symbolizes excessiveness and contains a lot of dairy products and eggs, that are not allowed to consume in Orthodox church during the Lent, the longest and the strictest annual fasting period. It lasts between Maslenitsa (Slavic pancake week) and Easter, for 48 days. In former times it was common to cook up a 48-course Easter menu, one course for each day of fasting! Nowadays, it’s a bit less extensive, but the tradition to serve a big variety of nutritious and wholesome dishes with a lot of dairy products and eggs still exists.
I made my kulich from butter, yeast, milk, eggs and flour, and as always, I tried to opt in for a healthier version by using agave nectar instead of sugar, fresh citrus zest instead of candied fruits and whole wheat flour. It came out sweet, fragrant, delicate, soft and doesn’t go stale for at least ten days! I used a normal saucepan with parchment paper lined on the bottom and on the sides instead of a tall baking form. Alternatively, you can use ready-made Panettone paper molds or a combination of both a saucepan and paper molds. Follow the recipe below to make your own fluffy kulich for Easter! It looks impressive and takes some time (mostly waiting for the dough to rise) but believe me, even if you are a beginner in baking, you still can do it!
What is your favorite Easter bread? Leave a comment below!