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Leo Tolstoy and Sophia Bers

23 September

On September 23, 1862, Count Leo Tolstoy married Sophia, the daughter of his friend Andrey Behrs. The wedding took place in the court church of the Kremlin, the groom being 34 and the bride aged 18. The union of almost fifty years produced 13 children and some of Tolstoy's best works of literature, but eventually turned bitterly unhappy.…

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Peter Carl Faberge

Peter Carl Faberge was a world famous master jeweler and head of the ‘House of Faberge’ in Imperial Russia in the waning days of the Russian Empire.

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Of Russian origin: Kulich

Photo from http://www.turoboz.ruPhoto from http://www.turoboz.ru

Bread plays an important role in Russian holiday and religious ceremonies. During Easter, the most popular bread is the semi-sweet, tall, cylinder-shaped kulich. It is usually baked in coffee or fruit tins to achieve its towering shape.Once a kulich is cooled, it is topped with a sugar glaze and decorated with flowers. 

The Kulich is a symbol of atonement on the cross by Jesus Christ.Thus, the initials XB for Xристос Воскресе, or Christ is Risen, is decorated on the side.The bread’s bulging top represents a church dome with snow on it which is why only the top is frosted.Traditionally, family matriarchs bring loafs 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. 

Most families believe that they have perfected the most delicious kulich recipe.  And while the ingredients vary, most varieties are dotted with raisins, nuts, and candied citrus rind.  The following recipe comes from The Worldwide Gourmet.

Photo from http://www.vkusnyblog.ruPhoto from http://www.vkusnyblog.ru

Ingredients for Dough:

  • 5-6 cups white flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups warm milk
  • 3 packets of yeast
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup candied fruits
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup softened butter + 5 tbsp.
  • 10 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered saffron

Ingredients for Icing:

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp. cold water
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice

Cooking Dough

Preheat oven at 110° C or  210° F

Soak the raisins in the rum for 10 minutes then drain. Mix the saffron with the rum and set aside.

In a bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 tbsp. sugar in 1/2 cup warm milk.  Let sit 10 minutes then add the vanilla, egg yolks, rum and saffron.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre and gradually pour the yeast and egg mixture into the well, then slowly gradually blend in the flour to form the dough.

Place dough on a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  As this is done, gradually add pieces of the butter.

Place the mix into a lightly greased bowl and cover with a cloth. Let it rise until doubled in volume.

In a bowl, mix the almonds, candied fruit, and raisins with 1 tbsp. of flour until well coated.

Punch down the dough.  Add in the fruits and almonds and knead for 2-3 minutes.

Butter a rectangular tin and line with a sheet of buttered brown paper. The unbuttered side should be facing outward.

Place the dough into the pan.  Cover it with a cloth and let rise 30-45 minutes until well risen;

Place it into the oven for 15 minutes then increase the oven temperature to 180° C or 350° F.  Bake for 1 hour longer.

Cooking Icing

Combine all the icing ingredients.  Pour slowly over the top of the cake so that it drizzles down the side in thin streams.


Bon appetite!


Written by Staci Bivens for RT