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ZUBKOVA FAMILY KULICH

ZUBKOVA FAMILY KULICH

Natalie Ganson remembers her paternal grandmother's recipe for Easter bread. `Incidentally,' says Ms. Ganson, `she wasn't a very good cook!'

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But, culinary skills aside, nearly all Russian Orthodox women of her day could prepare kulich. 2 packages dry yeast 1 tablespoon sugar 10 egg yolks 2 cups sugar 1 vanilla bean 9 cups all-purpose flour 2 cups milk, warmed 1 cup butter, melted 3 tablespoons vegetable oil Optional: 2 cups raisins, candied fruit, or sliced almonds

Mix yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine the egg yolks and sugar. Mix well. Add vanilla (slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the inside with a knife). Gradually add the flour and milk. Knead well on a floured surface, working in the melted butter and oil.

Knead in raisins or candied fruit and almonds, if desired. Set aside and let rise in a warm place until the dough doubles (2 to 2 1/2 hours). Punch down the dough and divide in half. Line two round pots (Natalie uses two 5 lb. coffee cans) with parchment (baking) paper and place the dough inside. Let rise again until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 1 hour or until a fork inserted in bread comes out clean. Let cool, then remove from baking container by pulling the parchment paper. Makes 2 loaves , about 15 slices each. TOPPING: 1 egg white 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar Fresh lemon juice (to taste)

Beat the egg white until stiff. Add confectioner's sugar and lemon juice. Using a spatula, spread on top of the kulich. PINK PASKHA

Paskha is a cheese dessert that is traditionally served with kulich. This recipe, adapted from `Classic Russian Cooking' by Elena Molokhovets (translated and introduced by Joyce Toomre, Indiana University Press, 1992) is an uncooked variation. 2 lbs. farmer's cheese 1/2 lb. raspberry jam 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 lb. butter 3 eggs 2-3 cups sour cream

Mix the farmer's cheese with raspberry jam. Add sugar. Press through a coarse sieve (or mix in a food processor) to take lumps out of cheese. Add butter, sugar, eggs, and then sour cream. Mix thoroughly and transfer to a small wooden mold with holes (or a strainer or clay flower pot) lined with a cloth napkin. Fold napkin over top of cheese. Set a board with weights on top to help drain. Allow to drain at least 4 hours (could drain overnight) in refrigerator. Flip over onto a plate and serve immediately.

Serves 20.

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The jam inparts a slight pink color and a delicate aroma of fresh raspberries.

Uncooked paskhas, such as this one, are better made in small molds because they spoil quickly, and it is better to have a variety of flavors (such as sweet cream, vanilla, cardamom, lemon zest, almonds, or mace) prepared in different ways.