As the breadbasket of Europe, Ukraine uses bread in a variety of holiday celebrations and religious ceremonies. With the approach of Orthodox Easter, Ukrainian girls are preparing to whip up the most popular bread for the occasion - the kulich.
The semi-sweet, tall, cylinder-shaped bread is often referred to as a cake since it's topped with a sugary icing and decorated with colorful sprinkles or flowers.
From the Greek word kollix, meaning a roll or loaf of bread, kulich is usually baked in coffee or fruit juice tins to achieve its towering shape. While the ingredients vary, most include nuts, candied fruits, and raisins.
Once cooled, white icing is slathered on top and slightly drizzled down the sides. The symbol XB is also added on top which represents the traditional Easter greeting of Христос воскресе, "Christ is Risen."
The cake-like bread's bulging top is meant to symbolize a church dome with snow on it which is why only the top is frosted. Traditionally, Ukrainian women bring loaves of kulich to church where they are blessed by a priest. Families then eat the bread for breakfast and for dessert during the 40 days following Easter until Pentecost.
This year, Orthodox Easter is May 5th since Orthodox churches base holidays on the Julian calendar, which often differs from the Gregorian calendar that is used by many Western countries.
If you want to try and bake kulich to impress your Ukrainian bride, there are plenty of various recipes online. Check out NatashasKitchen.com for one of our favorites, or watch this video!