Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Yields Serves 12



Dissolve yeast in water.


Mix together milk, salt, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 1/2 cups flour in large bowl with wooden spoon. When yeast bubbles, add and let mixture rise until doubled, about 1 hour.


Mix egg yolks, remaining 2/3 cup sugar, scraped vanilla bean and dash nutmeg.


Combine butter, lemon zest and saffron. Melt butter mixture gently in skillet over low heat, or microwave until warm but not boiling.


Stir butter into flour sponge. Add egg mixture. Gradually add remaining 3 cups flour and knead thoroughly on floured surface at least 10 minutes. Place in large mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and towel and set in warm place such as gas oven with pilot light on until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours; or leave in refrigerator overnight.


Grease inside of 2-pound coffee can, add bread crumbs and rotate to coat. Pour out excess crumbs. Fill can 1/3 full with dough. Cover and let rise again until doubled, 1 hour.


Bake Kulich on bottom rack of oven at 325 degrees until golden brown, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.


Remove Kulich from oven and gently slide out of can. Cover pillow with plastic wrap and lay Kulich on its side on pillow. Rotate 1/4 way every 10 minutes until cool. Set on plate to frost.

Royal icing


Beat egg white until frothy. Beat in sugar and lemon juice on medium speed until thick and glossy, about 3 minutes. Pour over top of cooled Kulich so top is coated and dribbles run down sides. Decorate icing with raisins and almonds before it sets.


To serve, slice horizontally through middle of Kulich, remove slices as desired and then replace top. Serve with Paskha.

Kulich is such a tall cake that it will slump as it cools. To keep it neat and cylindrical, rest it on a pillow and turn it regularly; cover the pillow with parchment paper or plastic wrap to prevent a grease spot. You can find 2-pound coffee cans at Smart & Final stores. Although the recipe callsfor uncooked eggs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has found them to be a potential carrier of food-borne illness and recommends that infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems avoid raw eggs.

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