Bakers Journal

Bakers Formula: Sourdough Kulich

October 16, 2020
By Chef Klaus Tenbergen

Sourdough Kulich image courtesy of the California Raisin Board


Yield 6 loaves
Ingredients – Metric – Grams Comments

Milk  – 270 g
Eggs  – 100 g  – room temperature
Sourdough starter – 100 g – 100 % hydration , mature
Instant – yeast 3 g
Vanilla extract – 8 ml
Bread flour – 450 g
Sugar, granulated – 12 g
Salt – 12 g
Butter, unsalted – 150 g – room temperature
California Raisins – 60 g
Golden California – Raisins 60 g
Pecans – 60 g – chopped and roasted
Lemon zest – 5 g
Total – 1290 g

*A 100% hydration sourdough starter is kept and fed with a 1:1 ratio of flour to water by weight.


Ingredients – Metric Grams – Comments
Sugar, powdered – 170 g
Milk 3 – 0-45 ml
Vanilla paste – 3 g
Salt – Pinch
Naturally-colored sprinkles as needed optional
Total – 205 g


  1. Cover the raisins with water at 26 ° then, drain. Allow raisins to absorb the surface water for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. In a small saucepan, scald milk then 22 °- 26 °C.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, sourdough starter, vanilla extract and yeast. Add flour and mix until dough is cohesive and shaggy, but not smooth. Cover bowl with a lint-free towel and let rest at room temperature for 45 minutes.
  4. Place dough on an unfloured counter and flatten slightly. Add salt and sugar to the top and fold the dough in half. Add butter to the top and fold in half again. Begin smearing the dough down and outward on the counter using the heel of your hand until flat. Use a bench scraper to scrape everything back into a mound and repeat for 1-2 minutes, or until the ingredients are blended. The dough will still feel slightly grainy.
  5. Pick the dough up by the sides, slap the front of it back down onto the counter, fold the back half of the dough (closest to you) over the top edge of the dough, give the dough a quarter turn, and repeat. Do not flour your work surface at any point. Occasionally, use a bench scraper to scrape everything back to the center. Continue kneading for 15 minutes, until the dough holds and is elastic.
  6. Add rehydrated fruits, pecans and zest. Continue folding for 5-10 minutes until fully kneaded. Pinch off a small amount of dough and stretch it until it’s so thin that it’s almost transparent. If it doesn’t rip, the dough is ready.
  7. Shape dough into a ball, place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour, then in the refrigerator overnight or up to 12 hours.
  8. Remove dough from the refrigerator and scrape onto an unfloured counter. Lightly flatten dough, begin pulling one edge of the dough up and towards the middle, pressing the dough lightly into the center. Rotate dough slightly and pull another edge of the dough up and towards the middle, pressing together lightly. Repeat steps until all edges have been folded over. Flip dough over and shape into a tight ball. Rotate dough and repeat. It will stick and drag slightly as it builds tension.
  9. Use one 6 by 4-inch kulich mold, prepping with non-stick spray before using if it is a metal pan. Place dough into pan and let rise at room temperature for 3 – 4 hours or until it doubles in size. If you have an oven with a bread proof option, set to 27 °C and place the pan inside to proof. You can leave the dough in a warm indoor area, or inside an oven set to the bread proof option. Dough will more than double in volume. Check the dough: press lightly and if the dent doesn’t fill in immediately, it’s ready to bake. If it bounces back, proof for another 15 minutes and test again.
  10. Preheat oven to 190 °C. Score the top of the bread from left to right and then top to bottom. Bake for about 60 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the bread reads 85 °F. If bread is browning too quickly, loosely cover top with a piece of aluminum foil.
  11. Unmold bread from pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely. If using a metal pan, leave bread in pan for 10 minutes before unmolding and cooling.

Icing: In a large bowl, whisk powdered sugar, milk, vanilla paste and salt. Mixture should be thick but pourable.

Assembly: Once the bread is cooled, pour icing on top of the bread. Cover with sprinkles immediately, if desired. Bread can also be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for one day before icing and serving.

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