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Historical recipe: Russian Easter sweet bread Kulich

In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. In this article, Sam recreates Sam Nott recreates Kulich – a rich, buttery Russian sweet bread usually eaten at Easter, but tasty at any time of year

Published: April 8, 2020 at 3:18 pm
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
  • Difficulty 4/10

Often baked in a coffee tin so its shape resembles that of the hats of Russian Orthodox priests, kulich remains a tasty treat after the restrictions of Lent. Traditionally it is decorated with the letters XB – Христос Воскресе (Khristos Voskrese – Christ is risen).


  • 20g Dried active baking yeast
  • 350ml Warm milk
  • 200g Caster sugar
  • 80g Sultanas
  • 50ml Rum
  • 750g Plain flour
  • 5 Eggs
  • 1tsp Vanilla extract
  • Salt
  • 250g Softened butter
  • 80g Almonds
  • 80g Chopped mixed peel

For the icing (optional)

  • 1 Egg white
  • 250g Icing sugar
  • 1tsp Lemon juice


For the bread

  • STEP 1

    Dissolve yeast in 100ml warm milk, add 1/2 tsp of sugar. Soak sultanas in rum. Sift 120g of flour into a bowl, add remaining 250ml milk and mix well. Add yeast mixture, cover, and let it stand in a warm place for 30 mins.

  • STEP 2

    Separate egg yolks and beat with sugar until fluffy and pale in colour. Stir in the rum, add vanilla and mix. In a separate bowl, add a pinch of salt to egg whites. Whisk until peaks form and set aside.

    When pliable add butter, 50g at a time. Knead for 2 mins and form into a ball.

  • STEP 3

    Add egg yolk mixture to yeast mixture and mix. Fold in the egg whites. Add the remaining flour in small batches, mixing well each time.

  • STEP 4

    Knead until dough separates from sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a flat surface and knead for 10 mins. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and wrap in a tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 90 mins.

  • STEP 5

    When dough doubles in size, remove and knead for 2 mins. Knead in sultanas, almonds and mixed peel.

For the icing

  • STEP 1

    Mix raw egg white with icing sugar and lemon juice. Spread over the top of the bread and let it drizzle down the sides.

Recipe provided by allrecipes.co.uk


Elinor EvansDigital editor

Elinor Evans is digital editor of HistoryExtra.com. She commissions and writes history articles for the website, and regularly interviews historians for the award-winning HistoryExtra podcast

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