Thursday, 29 March 2018

I wanted to try something different this Easter and came accross this lovely light, fruity, very much like a panettone Easter bread that is traditional in the Orthodox Christian faith and is eaten in countries like Russia served with Paskha ( a sweet cheese concoction) and or unsalted butter according to Wikipedia.

Kulich is usually prepared a few days before Easter and keeps very well. I would think that is the case as is with so many other fruit style cakes. The beautifully decorated bread (glazed, sprinkled with glacé fruits and sometimes even adorned with fresh flowers) is packed in a basket and taken to the parish priest to be blessed before Good Friday. Each piece of bread is believed to be filled with only happiness for the coming year. If you are a plain Jane - leave the bread rustic as is. There is a lot of beauty in a naked sweet bread with the wrapping still loosely tied.

My inspiration came from Linda Collister’s The Baking Book and after reading the recipe, thought to mention that you definitely have to start prepping a day ahead, at least. Also remember the rising times are long which will make the Kulich making and baking giving you pleasure for most of a day.

This recipe is enough for one 18cm loaf of extraordinary height.

I followed Linda’s advice to use a deep 18cm cake tin and extended the height by using corrugated cardboard. A double folded foil wrap may also be very useful. You will need to extend the height by at least 10-15cm. Secure whatever wrap with string and line the inside of the tin with 2 strips of baking paper cut to size. Also line the bottom of the cake tin with baking paper.

Pre-prep fruit and other inclusions at least a day before
100g sultanas
30ml best quality fragrant rum (The Ströh rum in our house is mine to indulge in baking and/or non-baking times)
100g slivered almonds
75g mixed cut citrus peel

1. Place sultanas in a suitable container with a fitted lid. Drizzle with rum, close the lid and shake every now and then.
2. Roast the almonds for 5-8 minutes on 180 C.
3. Have the rest ready for action the next day.

As well as infuse the milk with Saffron a day before
250ml milk
a large pinch of Saffron stamens

1. Heat the milk to boiling point, stir in saffron stamens, cover. Re-heat the next day to lukewarm to make a  nice cosy start up mix for the yeast.

Morning of Day 2
30g fresh yeast
Saffron milk, lukewarm
5ml castor sugar

1. Crumble the fresh yeast into the lukewarm milk. Stir to dissolve.
2. Make the yeast extra sporty by adding a little castor sugar for boosting energy.

Mixing the dough
150g butter, at room temperature
125g icing sugar
10ml vanilla essence
2,5ml salt
6 egg yolks
500g cake flour, sifted once

1. Using your electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the icing sugar and beat well till very light and fluffy.
2. Add the vanilla essence and salt. Beat well.
3. Add the yolks one at a time, beating very well after each addition.
4. Remove the bowl and add the sifted flour. Cut in with a knife.
5. When almost all of the flour has been worked in, add the happy yeast family. Mix further by well greased hands or with the knife. Keep going till it forms into a soft elastic dough.
6. Grease a bowl with a lid well and lay Your Preciousness softly down. Cover and let her rise for about 1-2 hrs, depending on the room temperature, until she has at least doubled in size.

About lunch time Day 2
7. Knock her down, ever so gently, and again with well buttered hands, work in the prepared inclusions.
8. Lay her down for the last time, snuggle in her prepared tin and let her rise gently until you feel she can not possible stretch her belly any longer. This could take an hour or 2 hours. Like I said - it is a long slow process which gives you pleasure for two days at least.

Madame just layed to rest

Madame with stretched out Boepie
Late afternoon Day 2

9. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C. Bake Princess Kulich for 20 minutes or until she starts to blush a light brown colour, then turn the heat down to 180 C and bake for a further 45-55 minutes.
10. If our dear lady starts to turn too brown, cover her up with foil. Make sure a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean and dry before you release her forever from her beloved Lofra.

Variations on flavour
Substitute saffron stamens with 10ml ground cardamom.

Variations on yeast
I love using fresh yeast from my local supermarket, but your local supermarket might not be as friendly as mine. Substitute with 1 packet (10g) instant yeast stirred into the lukewarm milk.

Making her pretty
1 cup icing sugar
15ml fresh lemon juice
1 drop of almond essence
15ml warm water

1. While Madame is having fun in the oven, prepare the icing. In a small bowl, mix together the icing sugar, lemon juice, almond essence and enough water to make a smooth, somewhat runny glaze.
2. Allow Madame to cool slightly before revealing her rustic beauty. While still slightly warm, drizzle the glaze over the top.
3. Decorate with sprinkles, flowers, all you like before wrapping her up to be blessed.

Blessed or not blessed, This Panettone style, sweet, delicately flavoured, fruity, yeasty bread is pure heaven and filled with happiness. Best is to serve horizontal slices, keeping the top as a lid to keep the bread fresh and moist for longer.

Recipe: Kanya Hunt
With Inspiration from Linda Collister’s The Baking Book
Always baked in my beloved Lofra available from Electrical industries

1 comment:

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