Albanian Kulaç (pronounced kulach) is a traditional bread recipe in my native country. We mostly make it with plain yogurt. If you love baking bread, you’ll love this soda bread because you won’t need yeast, starter dough or a lot of ingredients to make it:).
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Kulaç, Legends & Modern Usage
Albanian Kulaç is so easy to make. If you’re afraid of baking bread because most chefs on TV make it look like it’s a science, don’t worry. We have been baking this bread for centuries in my native country and I assure you people didn’t have scales to weigh everything or measuring cups.
In Northern Albanian cities and villages baked this bread for weddings, engagements and big family celebrations.
Several Albanians households bake kulaç on January 1st for breakfast and mix a coin inside the dough. The bread is cut into 8 slices similar to pizza shape and whoever finds the coin in his slice it is said to have a lucky year.
In the City of Korca there’s also a religious tradition related to kulaç bread. It’s called the Day of St. Vasil (dita a Shën Vasilit).
Currently, Albanian homes use bread from local bakeries and grocery stores but homemakers like to bake their own bread occasionally as a way to keep traditions alive. A lot of Albanians live abroad and sometimes we bake this bread to remind us of our homeland and our cuisine.
My mom and I baked a lot of bread in 1997 when we had to stay home during a Civil Unrest situation. We learned how to bake several types of bread from our neighbors and I have listed some of them all the way at bottom of this post. Kulaç soda bread is one of my favorites because of how easy it is to bake.
Tips & Notes
- This soda bread doesn’t have yeast, sourdough or any other leavener. Thus, the bread is not light and airy. It can be dense on the inside which can cause the bread not to bake well. This is where you come in!! Here are some tips to help you with this issue:
- let the dough rise on its own at least an hour before baking. Make sure it is in a warm environment.
- if oven is too hot, the outside of the bread will cook faster than the inside. You still need to let the bread bake thoroughly. But you can cover it with aluminum foil or if using a dutch oven cast iron like I did, cover the dutch oven with its lid. This will prevent the outside from getting burnt and the baking will still continue on the inside.
- Once bread is baked, resist cutting it for at least an hour. You can place the bread in a cooling rack and cover it with a kitchen towel.
- Baking dish – traditionally this bread is baked on a round baking dish. I chose to use a Cast Iron Dutch Oven because I feel I can control how the bread is baked on the outside by using the lid and cover the pot to ensure even baking inside out.
- Flour – you can use All Purpose Flour or Bread Flour for this bread. I tend to prefer bread flour, however AP would work as well.
- Salt – I don’t add a lot of salt to this bread so on its own it might be a little plain but I also serve it with feta cheese and kalamata olives which are very high in salt content. If you plan to serve this bread with something else, then maybe add a pinch more salt.
Albanian Soda Bread (Kulaç)
- round baking dish or Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1.5 cups plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
- 0..25 – 0.5 cups warm water
- 1.5 tsp baking soda try to use fresh baking soda, its qualities change if it has been exposed to humidity.
- 1 tbsp salt
- 0.5 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- Dissolve baking soda, salt and sugar into ¼ cup of warm water. Mix well. Then place 4 cups of bread flour into a wide dish. Create a well or crater in the middle and add the water/soda mix in the middle. Start mixing slowly. Then add the yogurt and continue mixing and folding the flour and yogurt forming dough. If needed add few more tbsps of warm water. See video below for visualization.
- Once dough is ready, drizzle olive oil over it and give it one more kneading, shape it into a ball. Dust the surface where you will bake the bread with flour, place the dough in it and let the dough rise on its own for an hour or so in a warm corner of your kitchen.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahreinheit (about 200 degrees Celsius). Bake bread for about 40-50 minutes. Usually at about 30 minutes, when the outside of the bread is well into golden-brown, I cover the cast iron Dutch Oven with its lid.
- Once baked, place bread on a cooling rack and cover with a towel. Let the bread cool for at least an hour before cutting it. Enjoy it for breakfast or snack. Usually it's served with butter and cheese. You can serve it as side dish too with Mediterranean Mezes like shown in my pictures. Enjoy:)
- Make sure baking soda is fresh.
- Water quantity may vary between 0.25 cup to 0.5 cup because of water content in yogurt, humidity and even altitude. All these things make a difference when making the dough.
- Get creative with your fork when adding designs to the dough before baking:)
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please save the below image to your boards in Pinterest. Feel free to ask me questions in comments below or tag me in social media with your kulaç pictures:). Thank you!
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More Bread Recipes
I love baking bread, feel free to check out some more bread recipes from my blog:
FABULOUS!!!!!!!!! Just took my first kulac out of the oven using my grandmother’s cast iron Dutch Oven (personal note … I tell my family if there’s ever a house fire or a disaster in our home to just grab this pan and run … leave everything else!).
THANK YOU, Sonila, for adding another delicious traditional recipe to my Albanian cookbook!
Thank you Ellen:)) Yes, I totally agree that cast iron dutch oven is essential!! I’ve been using mine more often lately.
The recipe ingredients ask for 1 tbsp salt and the video uses 1 tsp. I asume the latter is the correct amount?
Hi Medusa, I just re-watched the video because I hadn’t in a long time. Both video and recipe card show 1 tbsp of salt. Is there another location you’re seeing 1 tsp? Thank you!