1 cup lukewarm milk (110-115°F)
3 packages active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
1/2 cup sultana raisin
1/2 tsp. powdered saffron
1/4 cup rum
2 cups confectioners' sugar
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
10 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, cut into small bits and softened
4 1/2 tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 cup slivered or coarsely chopped toasted almonds
1/2 cup mixed candied fruits and rinds
1. Pour the milk into a small bowl and sprinkle in the yeast and granulated sugar.
2. Let the yeast and sugar rest for 2 or 3 minutes, then mix well.
3. Set in a warm, draft-free place (such as an unheated oven) for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture almost doubles in volume.
4. Soak the raisins in the rum for at least 10 minutes.
5. Transfer the raisins to paper towels to drain.
6. Dissolve the saffron in the rum and set aside.
7. Combine the confectioners' sugar, 4 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt and sift them into a large mixing bowl.
8. Make a well in the center, pour in the yeast-and-milk mixture, the vanilla, egg yolks and the reserved rum and saffron.
9. With a wooden spoon, gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the liquid ones.
10. Stir until the mixture is smooth, then beat in the butter bits.
11. Beat until the dough can be gathered into a medium-soft ball.
12. Place the ball on a lightly floured surface and knead, pushing the dough down with the heels of your hands, pressing it forward and folding it back on itself.
13. Add up to 1 1/2 cups more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky.
14. Continue to knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic.
15. Add the fruit mixture and knead vigorously until it is more or less evenly distributed throughout the dough.
16. With a pastry brush, coat the bottom and sides of an empty can about 6 inches in diameter and 7 inches high (such as a 3 lb. coffee can) with 2 tablespoons of the softened butter.
17. Spread 1 tablespoon of the butter over a sheet of heavy brown paper about 22 inches long and at least 10 inches wide, and line the can with it, unbuttered side against the metal.
18. Cut out a circle of brown paper slightly smaller than the diameter of the can, coat one side with the remaining butter and place it in the bottom of the can, buttered side up.
19. With scissors, slit the paper crown that extends above the can down to the rim at 2-inch intervals. Fold the resulting strips down over the can and tie them snugly in place with cord.
20. Place the dough in the can, drape it with a kitchen towel and set it aside in the draft-free place for about 30 minutes, or until it rises almost to the top of the can.
21. Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake the cake on the lowest shelf for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for 1 hour longer.
22. The cake will mushroom over the top of the can to form a cap.
23. Remove from the oven and cool in the can for about 5 minutes.
24. To unmold the cake, turn the can on its side and remove the bottom with a can opener.
25. Insert a long knife into the bottom of the can between the paper and the metal and work the blade around the edge to loosen the cake.
26. Gently set the can upright and, with the knife, carefully loosen the mushroom cap from the sides of the can, taking care not to break the cap.
27. Untie the cord. Pushing from the bottom of the can with one hand, gradually slide the cake out and place it upright on a wire cake rack.
28 Peel off the paper.
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cold water
2 tsp. fresh, strained lemon juice
With a wooden spoon, mix together the sugar, water, and lemon juice and pour it over the top of the warm cake, allowing it to run down the cake in thin streams.
The Russians prepare kulich for serving by first slicing off the mushroom-shaped cap and placing it in the center of a large serving platter. The cake is cut in half lengthwise and finally cut crosswise into 1 1/2- to 2-inch-thick slices. The slices are then arranged around the top of the cake. A traditional accompaniment is paska.