Russian Easter Cake
Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter in a slightly different way. Our main dish on the table is usually Kulich or Easter cake. Traditionally it is made on Clean Thursday (3 days prior to Easter) along with the eggs, blessed in the church and then eaten the next morning.
The recipe is kind of similar to Italian panettone and some Russians even buy panettone in store, decorate them accordingly with the traditions and put it into the center of the table on Sunday morning.
The shape of Kulich is traditionally tall and cylindrical just like Russian monastery bread – Artos that is unlike Kulich traditionally made out of kvas (fermented Slavic and Baltic beverage commonly made from rye bread).
Kulich was influenced by the Slavic tradition of spring ceremonial baking. It is served as ceremonial bread, which was usually baked on the eve of sowing works out of fermented dough. This sacred bread was used by peasants in rituals, and its remnants were used in fortune telling about harvest and offspring of the cattle.
This recipe contains video instructions.
Pro tip: in Russia, there are tons of cylindrical baking tins for this cake especially before Easter but in places like Europe and the US it is much harder to find. To recreate the shape I made it out of a few layers of foil.
2 medium-sized cakes/8 pieces
- 250g flour
- 2 eggs
- 250ml of milk
- 1 packet of dry yeast
- Zest from 1 orange
- 30g of chocolate chips
- 30g of roasted almonds
- 40g of candied citrus peel (see recipe)
- 100g of sugar
- 50g butter (softened)
- 4-6 tablespoons of vanilla frosting or more to taste
- Sprinkles, fresh fruit or herbs for decoration
Nutrition (with frosting):
- 353 Calories
- 13.3g Fat
- 63.5g Carbs
- 8.7g Fiber
- 20.3g Protein
Divide the flour into two equal parts (125g each).
Warm up the milk and put the yeast and a pinch of sugar into a cup. Wait for 2-3 minutes until it starts foaming.
Once the yeast or foamy enough, pour the liquid over one part of the flour (125g). The mixture will be sticky. It’s okay. Mix well, cover with plastic or towel and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
Meanwhile, roast the almonds if you haven’t done so. Mix with a little bit of olive oil and roast at 375F/180C for 7 minutes. Cut with the knife and set aside.
Separate egg yolks from the egg whites.
5 minutes before the timer goes off for your dough, In a large bowl mix egg yolks with sugar until it turns creamy yellow. Add orange zest and set aside.
Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks.
Once the dough is ready, mix it with egg yolk mixture, almonds, candied citrus peel, chocolate chips, and softened butter.
Start adding egg whites bit by bit carefully folding them into the dough.
Finally, add the remaining flour, mix well, cover with plastic or a towel and let it rise once more for an hour.
Make cylindrical tins out of foil and grease them with butter or olive oil.
Divide your dough between the two filling them up only by 1/3.
Cover with a towel and let it rise for 40 more minutes.
Preheat oven to 210F/100C and bake the cakes for 10 minutes.
THEN bring the temperature up to 360F/180C and bake for another 30-35 minutes or until the toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
DO NOT open the oven for the first 20 minutes into baking or the kulich will never turn out well and fluffy.
Decorate your kulich with frosting, sprinkles, and fruit and serve warm.
Keep your kulich in the fridge wrapped in a tea towel and warm it up before serving again. It will be good for another 4-5 days.