Bring the milk to the boil over moderate in a saucepan.
Remove from the heat, add the honey and oil and stir until the honey dissolves.
Gradually add 125 ml of the flour, beating until the mixture is completely smooth.
Allow to cool until lukewarm.
Pour the lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl and stir in the yeast.
Leave until frothy (about five minutes).
Add the milk and flour mixture to the yeast mixture and stir until smooth.
Cover with a cloth and allow to rise in a warm spot until the volume has doubled (about one hour).
In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and light. Add the spices, vanilla essence, liqueur, brandy, orange rind and juice and beat until well mixed.
Stir the butter, sultanas, almonds and almond essence into the mixture.
Beat the egg white until soft peaks form and fold into the egg yolk mixture.
Add the risen batter to the egg mixture and mix carefully but thoroughly.
Mix in the rest of the flour carefully with an electric beater, beating until the dough is smooth and slack.
Place the dough in a clean, well-greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and allow to rise in a warm spot until the volume has doubled (about 90 minutes).
Grease a clean 750 g coffee tin or a medium-sized soufflé dish with non-stick spray.
Wrap baking paper around the tin or dish to increase the height of the sides by 15 cm.
This Russian Easter cake is traditionally baked on the Friday before Easter. On Saturday night people bring the kulich and pashka to church to have the priest bless them just before midnight. Easter Sunday heralds the end of 40 days during which no meat, eggs, or dairy products are consumed. Russian families spend virtually all of Easter Sunday feasting, with the highlight being the serving of the kulich and pashka. Traditionally the letters XB (Kristos voskres, which means Christ is risen) are depicted on the kulich with crystallised fruit.