Sourdough Kulich: An Easter Recipe

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Sourdough Kulich l An Easter Tradition from Russia l Naturally Leavened l Homestead Lady (.com)Today I’m sharing a tasty Easter tradition that comes to us from our Slavic friends, made even healthier with a little fermenting.  Here’s sourdough kulich for your dining pleasure.

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Sourdough Kulich: An Easter Recipe

As a young missionary living in Russia I was gifted my first kulich one Easter-week morning by my Ukrainian missionary companion.  A rich egg bread, kulich is reminiscent of panettone and challah.  It’s lightly sweet and so lovely to serve to friends and family.  Since I consume wheat much easier after it’s been leavened (or fermented with sourdough), I adapted a few recipes until I found something I liked.

The first recipe is for regular yeast leavened kulich and details on how to prepare it can be found in our article at Hobby Farms.

The second recipe is from my absolute favorite book on sourdough, Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast, by Melissa Richardson.  Using her gorgeous recipe for challah and the recipe mentioned above, we created a sourdough kulich that is easier on everyone’s tummies but still tastes divine.  If you ever need any guidance on sourdough, be sure to check out either of Melissa’s books:

 

Sourdough Kulich

Many cultures have a traditional sweet bread for Easter time.  Here’s a sourdough take on a Russian favorite: Kulich.

Ingredients for Kulich

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup honey, raw sugar or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive, avocado or coconut oil softened
  • 8-9 cups of flour
  • 1 cup raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit – I like a mix of all these
  • 1 cup pistachios or chocolate chips, optional
  • Sugar glaze, optional
  • Colored sprinkles, optional

Ingredients for Glaze

  • powdered sugar
  • fresh lemon or lime juice

Directions

  1. Combine starter, water, salt, honey, vanilla, eggs, fat.  Mix well.
  2. Add flour, a few cups at a time.  Continue to add flour until the dough cleans the side of the bowl, as Melissa Richardson so beautifully explains in her books.
  3. Add dried fruit.
  4. Knead dough for ten minutes.
  5. Allow the dough to culture and rise for 6-12 hours in a covered, non-reactive bowl (like ceramic or glass).  Remember to allow enough room in the bowl for the dough to expand.
  6. After at least six hours, turn the dough onto a floured counter.  If you’re using pannettone paper molds, divide your dough into three equal portions.  If you’re using a can, use your judgement to divide up your dough according to the size and number of your cans.  You can expect the dough to about double in size once it’s finished kulich.
  7. Roll your portioned dough into smooth balls and place into their containers.  Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about two more hours.  You can lightly covered the dough to keep in moisture.
  8. Uncover and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.
  9. Mix powdered sugar and lemon or lime juice until a smooth glaze forms; I usually start with a cup of powdered sugar.  This glaze can be drizzled over the top of the finished bread, or on top of each cut piece before you serve it.  The sprinkles are optional, but fun.  To learn how to make your own sprinkles, be sure to check out The Homestead Kitchen chapter of our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead.

Molds for Kulich

Paper

Like panettone, kulich is traditionally baked in upright molds.  You can purchase paper panettone molds at specialty kitchen stores and online at venues like Amazon.

Baine Marie Pot

You can  also use a Baine Marie pot like the one Megan from My Food Storage Cookbook uses to bake bread in her Wonder Oven.

Upcycled Cans

Probably the easiest for most of us to use, though, is a tin can from our recycling container.  That’s what Aelita used that spring morning to bake up the kulich for our breakfast and it worked beautifully.

To use a can:

  • Take any size can without an interior lip and wash it thoroughly
  • If there are leftover sharp edges from removing the lid, flatten them by rolling over them in one direction with your can opener; you can also gently bang them flat with a hammer
  • Divide your dough evenly among the cans you have, adjusting for the size of each can; how many kulich you end up with depends entirely upon what cans you have
  • Remove any paper labeling
  • Dry and generously butter the inside of the can, all up the sides
  • Fill each can only halfway with dough and let it rise per the instructions in the recipe.

Sourdough Kulich l Add traditional Easter lemon glaze and sprinkles or modify to fit your taste l Homestead Lady (.com)

Finishing Up

A tin can bakes about like a regular bread pan but a little slower than a paper mold so be sure to watch all your kulich as it bakes, if you’re using tin cans.

To remove your bread from the can, allow it to cool completely and then use a knife to clear the bread from the sides.  Turn it over and gently tap the bottom of the can until the bread slides out.  Use caution as you’re going around the sides of the can that you don’t accidentally cut through into the side of the bread.  This is more often a problem with the taller cans than the smaller ones so make sure you’re using your longest knife if you have a #10 can (2 lbs. coffee can size).

Easter While You Wait

This bread has a long ferment and rise cycle, so you may need a few more Easter activities to keep you busy while you wait.

For a round up of Easter Traditions on the Homestead, click here.

Did you know you can empty eggs of their contents and dye the empty shells to make longer lasting Easter decorations?  This also keeps the whole egg hunt tradition a little more sanitary – who’d want to eat a hard boiled egg that had spent the day in the warm garden?!

Learn how to blow out your eggs – and not break them – by following these instructions, click here.

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6 thoughts on “Sourdough Kulich: An Easter Recipe

    1. If you’ve ever made challah, you can certainly make these – they’re very similar. The English have hot cross buns that are pretty much the same. I guess sweet egg bread and Easter go hand in hand. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. I’m so excited to try this! I’m making it for pascha at my parish. All the other bakers are excited to see how it turns out, since they’re using a recipe from a traditional Russian cookbook

    1. Ooh, I’d love to know how it compares, Herman! Sourdough is, of course, a different flavor but it sure is tasty. Be sure to update us and Happy Easter – He is Risen!

      1. It was lovely! I may have let it raise too long, or rather maybe accidentally added too much liquid somewhere, because it took nearly 50 minutes to cook.

        But it tasted wonderful!

        Traditional kulich has saffron and the raisins are soaked in rum. Everyone really loved this especially with paska cheese! Thanks for sharing. The woman who organizes all of our meals at the church has said that as long as I attend this parish, it is now required for me to make this recipe. =)

        1. Yay! I’m so glad it worked out well for you! When I bake mine in cans, it takes a little longer, too.

          Yes, I omitted the saffron from ours a long time ago and can’t remember why now. Cost? I should toss it back in because it’s just so lovely.

          Thank you for sharing! Next, come make me some paska – ooh, I love that stuff.

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