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KULICH
(Easter Sweet Bread with Raisins and Almonds)

1/4 oz. package active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp. dark rum
small pinch crumbled Spanish Saffron threads
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. almond extract

Proof the yeast in a large bowl with 1 tsp. of the granulated sugar
in 1/4 cup lukewarm water for 10 minutes, or until it's foamy.
While the yeast is proofing, in a small saucepan scald the milk
over moderate heat, stir in the rum and the saffron, and let the
mixture cool to lukewarm. Add the milk mixture to the yeast mixture
with the remaining half cup of granulated and one cup of the flour.
Blend the sponge well and let it rise in a warm place, covered with
plastic wrap, for at least an hour. Stir in the butter, the whole
eggs, the yolks, the salt, the raisins, the almonds and the 2 cups
of the remaining flour, or enough flour to form a dough. Turn the
dough out onto a floured surface and knead it, kneading in enough
of the rest of the flour to keep it from sticking, for eight to
ten minutes, or until it's smooth and elastic and has developed a
sheen.

Put the dough into a buttered bowl, turn it to coat it all over
with the butter, and let it rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a
warm place for an hour and a half or until it's doubled in bulk.

While the dough is rising, butter the inside of a 2-pound coffee
can and line the sides with a sheet of wax paper. Cut a circle of
wax paper and place it in the bottom of the can. Cut the wax paper
which extends beyond the can into strips and fold the strips over
the outside of the can. Punch down the dough and knead it 3 or 4
times, and put it in the can. Let the dough rise, covered with a
kitchen towel instead of the plastic wrap, in a warm place, for 45
minutes to an hour. Or until it has risen to the top of the can.
Bake the kulich in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes,
reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 30
to 35 minutes, or until it sounds hollow with a thunk when tapped.
Turn the kulich out carefull* onto a rack, and let it cool - upright,
not on its side. The kulich may be prepared a day in advance and
kept tightly wrapped and chilled. Good Friday or Holy Saturday are
the traditional days to make it, and it isn't eaten until immediately
after the Sunrise Resurrection service when it, along with the
pascha and other foods are the first eaten from the newly-blessed
foods in the baskets folks bring to church specifically to be
blessed.

Whisk together the confectioner's sugar (sifted) the lemon juice,
the almond extract and 2 teaspoons of water (or enough to make a
pourable glaze) in a bowl. Set the kulich on a plate and drizzle
the glaze over it, letting the glaze drip down the sides. Let the
kulich stand until the glaze has hardened and then transfer it to
a serving plate.

Serve this with freshly-brewed coffee.

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