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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Kulich, Russian Easter Bread, aka Paska

When we bought our Kitchen Aid mixer, I made a deal with my husband Desmond that he would have to use it at least 50% of the time. The Kitchen Aid is a great tool and Desmond has taken to baking, even successfully creating my Großma's very complex Russian Easter Bread. I will include bread machine variations, but for purists, have some feather pillows and coffee tins (sans edges) on hand.

When melting the shortening and butter, Desmond added a healthy pinch of saffron.

(photos by Desmond)

Kulich (Paska)(and notes by Großma)

4 pkg. yeast, dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water with 1 tsp. sugar
4 cups scalded milk
15 to 20 eggs
4 cups sugar
1 cup butter plus 1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. salt
4 cups four, and later, enough to make a soft dough
1 tsp cardamom
2 tsp vanilla
grated rind (zest) of lemon and orange
juice of one lemon

Soften yeast in warm potato water for 10 minutes. Then add a bit of flour to make a very soft sponge. In the mean time, scald the milk, pour over the 4 cups of flour and beat until very smooth. Cool this mixture slightly. Beat egg yolks with 2 cups sugar and add to the warm flour mixture. Add the stiffly beaten egg whites, and while this is still warm, add the yeast mixture and let this rise until it is light. Then add the softened butter and shortening, salt and 2 cups sugar. Add enough flour to make a smooth medium soft dough. Let this rise to double its bulk.

Traditionally these are baked in honey pails, greased well, sprinkled with crumbs. However, it is easier to line bottom and sides of tins with waxed or parchment paper. Fill one third with dough. Let rise until light. Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes, then 325ºF for 15 minutes for a total of 30 minutes.

Alternate directions from Großma:

Flour, eggs, fat, butter should be at room temperature. Soften yeast, scald 4 cups milk, put 2 cusp sugar, 1/4 cup shortening and salt, cardamom in milk. Milk and yeast and make sponge with 3 cups flour. Let rise 1/2 hour until it bubbles. Always keep warm. Separate eggs and beat 10 egg whites. The 15 yolks beat with 2 cups sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening to this and beat. Add all other ingredients and eggs, sugar and whites and mix it with the sponge. Add flour to make soft dough and knead it. Knead a LONG time. Let rise until double in bulk, 1-2 hours. Fill pans 1/3 full. Let rise another 1-2 hours. Keep kitchen free of drafts and dough warm.

Bake 350ºF for 30 minutes. If bread is getting too brown, tent with foil.

After taking out of oven, put tin on rack for 5 minutes. Take out of form and put on feather pillows. Roll occasionally, if too tall.

Icing: Icing sugar and lemon juice and sprinkle with decorative sugar.
P.S. The remaining egg whites were usually made into Floating Island Pudding. Beaten egg white, sugar, vanilla poached in milk, made into a custard sauce (thickening and sugar and vanilla). Serve Cold.

Paska (Kulich) for Bread Machine

1 cup water
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp. powdered milk
4 tbsp. (1/4 cup) butter
6 tbsp. sugar
1 -1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups white flour (all purpose)
1-1/2 tsp yeast
orange and lemon zest
a bit of lemon juice (not quite 1/2 lemon)
1/4 tsp cardamom, powdered
3 tbsp. slivered almonds
1/2 cup raisins (may be too much)
The final two ingredients added later

Arthur's Bread Machine Recipe

7/8 cup water
2 tbsp. milk powder
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 cup flour
2 or 3 tsp. orange and lemon zest
1-1/2 tsp yeast
1/4 tsp cardamom (optional)
Raisins (optional)

Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lemon Curd (from Larousse's Gastronomique)

(Lemon Curd Meringue Tart)

Finely grate the peel of 2 large lemons. Squeeze them and reserve the juice. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a double saucepan over a very gentle heat. Gradually add 1 cup superfine sugar, 3 beaten eggs, the grated lemon zest and the lemon juice. Stir until thickened. Put into sterilized jars while still hot and cover with wax paper, pressing the paper on the surface of the lemon curd. Leave until completely cold before covering the jars.

For 100 milers, I made this with local Raspberries instead of lemons and it was delicious over a pavlova.

Serve on bread or fill in tartlet shells.