Kulich is a traditional Easter bread popular in Eastern Europe that’s made from cardamom and saffron-infused dough and topped with a creamy confectioners’ sugar glaze and colorful sprinkles.
Rich, buttery, and impressive as all get out, Kulich is a traditional Easter bread in parts of Eastern Europe. Its towering stature and its dome bedecked with icing and sprinkles make it instantly recognizable, but we think its the hint of cardamom and saffron along with its dreamily delicate texture that leave the most lasting impression. The dough is a cinch to pull together ahead of time, making this a welcome recipe for Easter or any morning that could use some last-minute sweetness made with ease.
The dough recipe will yield about twice as much as you’ll need for a single kulich. Leftover dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days and used for additional loaves or smaller buns.–Jenny Howard
What Is The History of Kulich?
Kulich, an Easter bread enjoyed around Eastern Europe and Russia, can be recognized by its tall base and rounded top, as well as a generous coating of sugar glaze. Some say that the overflowing muffin top of this bread represents the dome of a church. In the Russian Orthodox tradition, kulich is surrounded by flowers and receives a special blessing at midnight mass before Easter Sunday. This dough is lightly flavored with saffron, an exotic spice that traditionally would have only been used on special occasions. To get the traditional shape, the bread needs to be baked in a cylindrical mold, a coffee can, or a paper panettone mold.
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 7 H, 55 M
- Serves 8 to 10
Special Equipment: 1 large panettone mold (6- to 7-inch | 15- to 18-cm diameter) or 1 empty #10 coffee can (3-pound | 1.5-kg capacity and 6 1/4-inch wide by 7-inch tall|16 cm by 18 cm), rinsed and dried
- For the saffron dough
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt or quark
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 6 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1/4 cup potato flour* (see NOTE below)
- 1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz), melted
- For the kulich
- Butter for the panettone mold or coffee can
- 2 pounds saffron dough
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water for glaze
- For the icing
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more as needed
- Colorful sprinkles (optional)
- Make the saffron dough
- 1. In a 5-quart (5-liter) bowl or other large container or in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, stir together the water, saffron threads, milk, quark or Greek yogurt, eggs, yeast, salt, sugar, and cardamom.
- 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour and the potato flour. Use a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of the stand mixer to blend the flours and the melted butter into the saffron mixture until a soft dough forms. It’s not necessary to knead the dough.
- 3. Loosely cover the bowl or container (do not seal it airtight) and let the dough rise for 2 hours at room temperature until it nearly doubles in size. Refrigerate, still loosely covered, for at least 3 hours or up to 5 days.
- Make the kulich
- 4. Generously butter a panettone mold or coffee can. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (910 g) piece. (Return the rest of the dough to the refrigerator for up to 5 days and use for additional loaves or smaller buns.) Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Place the ball in the buttered panettone mold or coffee can, seam side down.
- 5. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
- 6. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and adjust the rack to the center of the oven.
- 7. Lightly brush the top of the dough with the egg glaze. Bake until golden brown and a tester comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes, depending on the size of your mold or coffee can. Carefully set the mold or coffee can on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make the icing
- 8. In a bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar and heavy cream until smooth and thick enough to cling to the cake. If necessary, dribble in some additional cream, a little at a time, until the icing is pourable but still quite thick. You don’t want it to drip too far down the sides of the loaf.
- Assemble the kulich
- 9. Remove the cooled loaf from the mold or coffee can and drizzle the icing over the top. Decorate with colorful sprinkles, if using.
*WHAT IS POTATO FLOUR AND DO I REALLY NEED IT?
- The dough for this kulich bread incorporates a small amount of potato flour to ensure its tender, almost pillowy texture. While sometimes challenging to find, it’s an ingredient worth the search. In a pinch, the same measurement of bread flour may be substituted, or even an equal weight of instant potato flakes, but kindly note that potato starch is something else altogether and will not perform well here.