Kulich, a traditional Russian Easter cake Recipe
Initial oven temperature: 110° C (210° F)
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Rising time: 1 1/2 hour
Baking time: 1 1/4 hour
The classic kulich was begun several days before Easter. It contained candied fruit, almonds, and raisins, flavoured with rum and saffron, and prepared like a bread. It was always baked in a special kind of pan – tall and cylindrical, sort of like a coffee can. When the cake was done, it was decorated with white frosting drizzled down the sides. On the side, spelled out in pieces of candied fruit, were the letters XB, representing the Cyrillic letters for “Christos voskres” — “Christ is risen.”Often the kulich were carried to church and set out on long tables to be blessed by the priest. (In the old days, the priest would often make a “house call” to his wealthier parishioners to bless the food at home.)
The cake forms a hat shape, since the dough swells above the mould and becomes wider. Russians often trim off the brim and place it in the centre of a serving plate. The cake is then cut in half horizontally and sliced. These slices are arranged around the brim. Kulich is traditionally served with Fresh Cheese Pashka.
- Soak the raisins in the rum for 10 minutes; drain; mix the saffron with the rum and set aside;
- in a bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 tbsp. sugar in 125 ml (1/2 cup) warm milk; let sit 10 minutes; add the vanilla, egg yolks, rum and saffron;
- combine the flour, icing sugar and salt; make a well in the centre;
- gradually pour the yeast and egg mixture into the well, gradually blending in the flour to form a dough;
- place on a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic, while gradually incorporating pieces of the butter;
- place into a lightly greased bowl; cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled in volume;
- in a bowl, toss the almonds, candied fruit and raisins with 1 tbsp. of flour until well coated;
- punch down the dough; mix in the fruits and almonds and knead for 2-3 minutes;
- butter a rectangular bread tin; line with a sheet of buttered brown paper, with the unbuttered side facing out;
- place the dough into the pan; cover with a cloth and let rise 30-45 minutes until well risen;
- place into a preheated 110° C (210° F) oven for 15 minutes; increase the oven temperature to 180° C (350° F) and bake for 1 hour longer.
- Combine all the icing ingredients; pour slowly over the top of the cake so that it drizzles down in thin streams.
Polish Easter Cake: Traditional Easter Celebration
The celebration of Easter in Poland hold very traditional importance and this holds a lot of preparation by the housewives too. They have to start making the Easter cake which they must start in the holy week, and not before that. The celebration starts from the Good Friday itself, when all of the family members go to the church to get the blessings of Jesus Christ. On this day, no animal should be slaughtered even combs are not allowed to be used as this day is considered as the ‘day of mourning’.
A special type of bread called ‘paska’ is prepared for the Easter Sunday. This is made from flour and yeast. The surface of this bread was covered with fat and decorated with a cross made by the dough. The tradition involved the participation of women in the making of bread and no men were allowed to enter into this work. On Easter Sunday these breads were used to prepare the cakes. These cakes were made of many flavour, vanilla, saffron, almond flavoured, grated with egg etc. The cakes are considered to be very important ingredients of the Easter breakfast. Two types of famous cakes are prepared, some gigantic cakes called ‘baby cakes’ and also ‘Mazurek cakes’. Mazurek cakes are the flat cake which is used on wafers or pastries. These cakes are decorated with jams and jellies on top of the cake.
There are various sources of finding the recipes for the Polish Easter egg making. Now let us look at the recipe for the preparation. You need to get
½ Cup milk
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter
¼ cup warm water
2 beaten eggs
2 half cup flours
½ cup chopped almonds
½ cup raisins
½ teaspoon grated lemon
1 cup full of confectioners sugar
and a lot of cherries for decoration.
Now let us start with the process. In a saucepan heat ½ cup milk with sugar, salt and butter until the sugar seems to dissolve in the butter. On another deep cake pan, dust it with flour. In a large bowl with warm water, sprinkle some yeast and stir it until it gets dissolved. Then add lukewarm milk, egg and flour and rinse it for few minutes. Then beat the almonds, raisins, grated lemon and let the heat rise up. Then pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake it for 50 minutes. Cool it in a pan for 20 minutes and then further cool it by taking it off from pan. Beat confectioner sugar and then decorate your table with the cake. On top of the cake put the cherries to make it more attractive. This cake is then presented as feast to all the members of the family.
Baumkuchen — the King of Cakes!
A true test of a pastry chef’s skills, the Baumkuchen has earned its reputation as the “King of Cakes.” This labor-intensive specialty gets it name, which translates literally as Tree Cake, from the many thin rings that form as layer upon layer of cake is baked. For more than 200 years German bakers have been producing this treat by placing a thin spit over a heat source, originally a wood fire, then evenly brushing batter over it, giving each new layer a chance to bake to a golden brown before brushing on the next. When the cake is removed and sliced, each layer is divided from the next by a golden line, resembling the rings on a crosscut tree. Skilled pastry chefs have been known to create cakes with 25 layers, weighing over 100 pounds and measuring more than 3 feet long. The recipe here is adapted for the home baker and uses a springform pan instead of a spit. Of course the ring effect won’t be exactly the same, but the taste is still worth the effort and you won’t have to spend your Christmas holiday cleaning drips of burned batter off the oven.
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup sugar
8 eggs (separated)
2 tbsp rum
grated lemon rind
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup minced almonds
1 cup plus 2 tbsp flour mixed with
1 cup plus 2 tbsp starch
1/2 cup apricot jam, melted
almond paste, powdered sugar, or chocolate icing (optional)
Whip butter and sugar well until creamy. Gradually add egg yolks and the remaining ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture until a light, foamy batter forms. Beat egg whites until very stiff and stir gently into the batter. Pour about 2 tablespoons batter (a thin covering) into a 8-1/2″ springform pan greased with butter. On the uppermost oven rack, bake (or broil!) in a preheated oven at 450° F for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Watch carefully, this browning can take place very quickly. Repeat until all the batter is gone — you should have about 14 to 16 layers. When the cake is done, let it stand a few minutes before running a sharp knife along the sides of the pan. Remove the cake from the pan and glaze with melted apricot jam. Once the jam is set, you can add an additional glaze of thinned almond paste or immediately finish the cake with a thin icing made from powered sugar or the highest quality chocolate available (use your favorite chocolate).