Albanian Kulac (pronounced kulach) is a traditional bread recipe in Albania. It is mostly made with plain yogurt, however, in my recipe, I use Greek yogurt. This traditional bread is simple to make, does not take much time to put together, and uses few ingredients- there is no yeast used, therefore, no rising time. On my first Christmas in Albania, I baked several “loaves” and gave them away as Christmas presents to other Expats. I can never seem to leave a recipe stand on its own so I added homemade honey cinnamon butter to the gift boxes.
KULAC BREAD AND ITS PLACE IN ALBANIAN CULTURE
In the north of Albania, cities, and villages baked this bread for weddings, engagements, and big family celebrations.
Several Albanian households bake kulaç on January 1st (the feast day of St Basil) for breakfast and mix a coin inside the dough. The bread is cut into 8 slices (wedges) and whoever finds the coin in his/her slice is said to have a lucky year ahead. The Greeks have a similar tradition of using a coin in the bread at the New Year.
For wedding feasts, Kulac Bread is made the day before and eaten the day after the wedding by the bride and groom. Making the Albanian soda bread is said to bring prosperity and peace of mind to the soon-to-be spouses. Another tradition surrounding the wedding festivities and Kulac Bread is that it is made in silence to guarantee a non-nagging and worrying wife, a close male relative will watch wearing three types of hats as it is believed it will help the couple conceive a male on their wedding night.
A couple of things I do know…… Kulac is simple to make however, it is pretty high in calories but delicious nonetheless and well worth every calorie. Whether, you are celebrating a wedding, the New Year, or just love bread, I hope you enjoy baking this and enjoy eating it even more! Don’t forget to use my honey cinnamon butter on your slice! (recipe also below)
KULAC BREAD INGREDIENTS:
500- 525 g White, Bleached All-Purpose Flour (Whenever I have made this, it normally takes almost 550 G) Do Not Use Self Rising Flour
500 g Greek Yogurt
1/2 Tsp coarse Sea Salt
2 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
TO PREPARE YOUR KULAC BREAD:
In a large bowl or a clean work surface, mix together the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, and salt.
Make a well or a big hole in the middle and add the yogurt. Using your hands, slowly combined the ingredients together to start to form a dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface, adding extra flour if you find the dough is too sticky. (if you are placing a coin inside, wrap the coin in foil and this is the point where you would fold it into the dough) The dough is ready when it is of a pizza dough texture and still slightly sticky, this should only take a few minutes. It’s a bit messy but really only takes about 5 minutes for this step!
Using the olive oil, lightly oil your baking pan- I use a cake pan- and put the dough on top. Shape and flatten the dough into a circle shape ensuring the height of the dough is about 5cm. Using a pastry brush, cover the dough with a little bit of olive oil making sure to cover the whole loaf letting it drizzle down the sides.
Before baking, create patterns on the surface of the bread which helps to bake the bread more evenly. The most common patterns are using the back of a fork to slightly press down to create line indents all over or spiking the dough with the fork. Although this has a practical purpose, I think creating the design on top, is kind of fun!
Having preheated your oven to 200C, 395F, place your baking sheet on the bottom rack. Bake for 40 minutes or until the dough is golden and firm to touch.
Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a rack. Serve warm by either slicing into 8 slices or just breaking pieces off by hand. ENJOY!
Honey Cinnamon Butter:
Mix 1 stick of very soft butter with 2 Tbsp of honey and 1 to 2 Tsp of cinnamon.
I’d love to hear about your success with this recipe! Please share your experience in the comments section.
Coming in the next few days, I will be posting articles on Tirana and the language of Shqip. I hope you are loving my experiences as an American Expat in Albania and will visit my site as I learn the traditions of Albania.
Until next time, friends, remember: “To Travel is to Live!”