Kulich (Russian Easter Cake)


  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • ¼ cup lukewarm water
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup orange blossom honey
  • 1lemon, zested
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2eggs
  • 1egg yolk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 4 clean 14-ounce food cans
  • 1egg white
  • 1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, or more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds, or as needed
  • Directions

  • Step 1

    Place golden raisins into a bowl, drizzle with vodka, and allow raisins to soften overnight.


  • Step 2

    Mix 1 teaspoon sugar into lukewarm water in a bowl until sugar dissolves. Stir yeast into the water and let stand until the yeast mixture is frothy, about 10 minutes.

  • Step 3

    Heat milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until very warm but not simmering. Stir in saffron threads and cardamom, remove from heat, and let the milk mixture stand until lukewarm.

  • Step 4

    Transfer yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl. Stir milk mixture, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 cup flour into the yeast mixture, beating until the batter is smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

  • Step 5

    Mix melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, orange blossom honey, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and salt together in a bowl. Beat butter mixture into the batter, then beat in eggs and egg yolk.

  • Step 6

    Mix 2 1/2 cups of flour into the dough. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup flour onto a work surface and knead dough until it holds together, about 5 minutes; knead soaked golden raisins and 1/2 cup almonds into the dough until well distributed.

  • Step 7

    Form dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl; turn dough around in the bowl several times to coat outside of dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

  • Step 8

    Punch down dough, knead a few times, and divide dough into 4 pieces. Coat inside of clean 14-ounce cans with butter. Line cans with parchment paper. Roll each piece of dough into a ball, place into a can, and press dough lightly against the inside bottom of can.

  • Step 9

    Cover cans with a cloth and allow dough to rise to the top of the cans, about 45 minutes.

  • Step 10

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  • Step 11

    Place a baking sheet into the oven; place the cans of dough upright into oven on baking sheet. Bake until kulich are risen and lightly browned, 45 to 50 minutes.

  • Step 12

    Let kulich cool in the cans for about 15 minutes before gently removing from cans to finish cooling on racks.

  • Step 13

    Beat egg white in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy; beat in confectioners’ sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Beat lemon juice into frosting.

  • Step 14

    Frost the tops of the kulich and sprinkle tops with 2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds. Refrigerate leftovers.

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