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7g dry yeast
½ cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean (6 to 8 inches)
1 tbsp vodka or brandy
1 pinch powdered saffron (optional)
2 tbsp milk
½ cup butter or margarine
¼ tsp salt
3 large eggs
2 ½ to 3 cups plain flour
2 tbsp diced candied orange peel
½ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ tsp lemon juice

In a bowl, add yeast and ½ teaspoon granulated sugar to 2 tablespoons warm water. Let stand until yeast is soft, about 5 minutes. Cut vanilla bean lengthwise; scrape out black seeds and add to vodka in a cup. Add saffron to milk in another cup.

In another bowl, beat to blend remaining granulated sugar, butter and salt. Add yeast mixture, vodka-vanilla mixture, saffron mixture, eggs, 2 ¼ cups flour and orange peel. Stir until thoroughly moistened. With mixer on high speed, beat dough until stretchy and shiny, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup flour until evenly moistened. With a dough hook, beat on high speed until dough pulls fairly cleanly from sides of bowl, about 2 minutes.

Dough will be soft and slightly sticky to touch. If necessary, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat longer.

Or with lightly oiled hands, knead dough in bowl until it feels smooth, pulls from your hands and is just slightly sticky to touch, about 4 minutes. If necessary, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place until about doubled in volume, 1 to 2 hours.

Line the bottom of 1 juice or broth can (1.4lt) with cooking parchment cut to fit. Then line sides of can with parchment, extending it about 2 inches above can rim; secure with paper clip. (Or use waxed paper, buttered heavily and dusted with flour.)

Punch dough down to expel air, then shape into a smooth – topped ball and drop into can. Cover can lightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until dough is about 1 ½ inches below can rim, 45 minutes to 1 ¼ hours.

Bake on lowest rack in a 160 degree oven until a long, thin wood skewer inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean, 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. Let bread stand in can for 10 minutes, then remove from can and parchment. Lay the loaf on its side on a rack to cool.

Blend powdered sugar with lemon juice and ¾ teaspoon water until smooth. Stand kulich upright and drizzle top with icing. To serve, cut bread into rounds.

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