A traditional Polish Christmas pie made from sauerkraut and mushrooms, the kulebiak pie is a staple at every Polish Christmas dinner table. The yeast-based bread roll stuffed with mushrooms and sauerkraut is perfect for a meal or a snack with beetroot soup.
What Is Kulebiak?
Made with a traditional recipe, kulebiak is a delicious eaten in Poland during Christmas and Easter and is made of sauerkraut and mushrooms which are traditional advent and lenten food items. That’s why it’s also called kulebiak z kapusta i grzybami.
Originally a Russian dish invented in the 17th century, kulebiak has been assimilated into many European cultures – Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian, Slavic, and German.
Kulebiak is so much a part of Polish culture now, it was added to the list of traditional Polish products maintained by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2009. You’ll also find a recipe for it in the book ‘Polish Cooking’ by Marianna Olszewska Heberle, and a few other popular Polish cookbooks.
How To Make The Perfect Polish Kulebiak Pie For Christmas
Kulebiak is made in 3 main steps. It takes a bit of time, but you’ll enjoy the results.
Step I – How To Make Kulebiak Dough?
Proof the yeast with sugar. At the same time warm up the milk and melt the butter in the pan.
Mix all the dough ingredients together either by hand or using a food processor. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth and allow to rest for an hour or so till it doubles in size.
Step II – How To Make The Kulebiak Filling?
Mushroom and sauerkraut filling is easy to make. Start with soaking the dried mushrooms in a cup of hot water for a while. At the same time, drain and rinse the sauerkraut.
Cook the sauerkraut, with the allspice berries, bay leaves, and mushrooms till soft.
Once cooked, discard the allspice berries and bay leaves. Drain the mushrooms and sauerkraut if necessary. Once they’ve cooled down, chop the mushrooms and sauerkraut and set them aside.
Dice onion and fry it in oil. Add the mushrooms and sauerkraut to it and fry for another 5-10 minutes. Lastly, season with salt and pepper.
Step III – How To Assemble Kulebiak?
Preheat the oven to 356°F (180°C) and line a bread pan with parchment paper.
Roll out the kulebiak dough to equal the length of your bread pan.
Cover it with the filling and roll the dough into a cylinder. Move the kulebiak dough to the bread pan, and brush it with an egg white or melted butter.
If you wish, you can make 2 smaller kulebiaks using this recipe. If you want to do that, divide the dough into 2 pieces, spread the dough, and roll out the pastry. Wrap the kulebiaks in the parchment paper and bake on a baking tray or in two smaller baking pans.
If you’re making kulebiak to give friends and family, bake it in smaller disposable loaf tins.
Sprinkle it with your choice of toppings and bake for 45 minutes. And that’s it! The kulebiak is ready to serve!
Tips For Making The Best Polish Christmas Kulebiak
- If you don’t want to chop the sauerkraut and mushrooms, you can blend them to get a smooth consistency.
- During Christmas, you can make the kulebiak fish or star-shaped if you want to.
- You can also add hard-boiled eggs to the filling.
- You can prepare the filling a day or two ahead and store it in the refrigerator.
- If you’re in a hurry, you can make the kulebiak pie using ready, fresh or frozen pastry dough.
- Kulebiak can be served hot or cold.
- Serve a slice of kulebiak with a beetroot soup.
FAQs About Making Kulebiak Christmas Pie
How To Pronounce Kulebiak?
Kulebiak is pronounced kool-ee-bee-ack.
What Is The Size Of The Baking Pan You Used?
The baking pan used to make this kulebiak is 5” x 15”.
What Else Can Be Used To Kulebiak Pie Filling?
If you are making the traditional pie filling for Christmas or Lent, it must only be sauerkraut and mushrooms. But if you’re making the pie filling for other times of the year, you can also add hard-boiled eggs, kielbasa sausages, bacon, boiled chicken, sauteed beef, salmon, herring, carp, farmer’s cheese, or other ingredients.
What Toppings Can I Use For The Kulebiak Pie?
You can use any of the following as toppings for the kulebiak.
Alternatively, you can set aside a handful of dough and use it to make star-shaped decorations for the pie. Your kid will love to help with this.
How To Store Kulebiak?
Cover the kulebiak Christmas pie with aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Serve hot or cold.
Kulebiak Recipe – Polish Christmas Sauerkraut And Mushroom Pie
Yeast dough for kulebiak
- 2 oz (55g) of fresh yeast
- 4 cups/ 18oz / 500g of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (230g) of butter
- 1 cup (240g) of milk
- 2 eggs yolks
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- 2 tbsps of salt
- 18 oz (500g) of sauerkraut
- 1-2 oz (30-50g) of dried mushrooms
- 1 onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 allspice berries
Optional Ingredients to sprinkle on the Kulebiak
- black seeds
- dried onion
- poppy seeds
How To Make Kulebiak Dough?
- Using a spoon, mix yeast with sugar until it becomes fluid.
- Warm up the milk (it shouldn't be too cold or too hot).
- Melt the butter on the pan.
- Carefully mix all the ingredients for the dough together. You can mix it by hand (in a bowl) or use a food processor.
- Place the dough in a big bowl and cover with a clean kitchen cloth.
- Let the dough rest in a warm place for an hour. After that time, it should double its size.
How To Make The Kulebiak Filling?
- Cover the dried mushrooms with 1 cup of hot water. Cook for about 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, drain the sauerkraut. If you don't want your filling to be too sour, you may even rinse it.
- Add the sauerkraut, allspice berries, bay leaves to the mushrooms and cook until soft (for about 30 minutes).
- After that time, throw away the allspice berries and bay leaves. Drain the mushrooms and sauerkraut if necessary.
- When they are cold, chop them. It's up to you whether you chop them finely or not.
- Peel and dice an onion, peel and crush the garlic, and fry them together in oil.
- Add the cooked mushrooms and sauerkraut and fry for another 5-10 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
How To Assemble Kulebiak?
- Preheat the oven to 356°F (180°C).
- Line the big bread pan with parchment paper.
- Roll out the dough onto a floured surface. It should match the length of your bread pan.
- Spread the filling onto the dough, avoiding the edges.
- Roll up the pastry, starting at one of the long ends. Make sure to tuck the ends of the roll under it. (that will prevent the filling from leaking out).
- Carefully move the kulebiak onto the bread pan.
- Brush it with egg white or melted butter.
- Sprinkle with cumin, poppy seeds, black seeds, or fried onion (it's not necessary)
- Bake for 45 minutes.
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