Paska Easter Bread

Paska Easter Bread

Paska Easter Bread

Taking bread classes have really opened my eyes to the endless amount of bread varieties that I have been missing all these years. Who knew there was more out there other than Wonder Bread.  A couple of weeks ago I learned how to make Paska, a traditional Ukrainian Easter Bread. Paska (from Ukrainian Паска, meaning Form) is also eaten in other Eastern European countries including south Russia, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, and parts of Bulgaria.  Paska, which is a sweet rich, white bread decorated on the top with symbols, including crosses, flowers, braids, wheat, or other designs representing aspects of Orthodox and Eastern Catholic faith. Ukrainians like to place Paska in a basket with decorated eggs and take the arrangement to church for the priest’s blessing. Afterward they eat the food as Easter breakfast, being the first meat meal, after a strict fast on Good Friday and Saturday.  I kind of wish our family had this kind of tradition as it sounds beautiful. Oh wait we did, ours was a little different. Every Easter morning my mother would tell us that we had to eat 3 different kinds of eggs or we would get “the guile”. What the hell is “the guile”? I have no idea and she never explained it to us. We just knew we never wanted such a vile thing.  So we proceeded to eat three different types of eggs. My choice was always; one of my hard-boiled eggs I had coloured the night before, one chocolate egg and one panned egg (my fav – you know those candy coated eggs with a soft chewy centre) YUM!

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Sorry major sidetrack there, I think I must go out right now and buy some of those eggs. OK all this background info about Paska is great but all I wanted to know was “what on earth did it taste like”. The best way I can describe it is this ” an oversized hot cross bun – but without all that weird fruit (you know that stuff you really have no idea what it is).  Below is the recipe from school, so it makes 4 loaves, you might want to divide the recipe in half as it is a lot of bread and it is a killer on your stand mixer.


 

Ingredients

45 grams fresh yeast (see one of my below post on how to calculate substituations for dry yeast)

Yeast substitue calculations

175 grams warm milk

875 grams all-purpose flour, divided into 175g and 700g

210 grams butter

80 grams white sugar

20 grams salt

50 grams rum

20 grams pure vanilla

zest of 1 lemon

7 eggs

415 grams raisins


Directions

1) make a sponge

– heat milk to a temperature between 30-35F

– in a medium size bowl place yeast on bottom with 175grams of flour on top and add the warm milk

– mix just roughly until sponge is combined

– cover and let rest for 30min

Sponge

Sponge

2) in a large stand mixer with paddle attachment add butter,sugar,salt, rum, vanilla, and lemon zest and mix until light and fluffy

3) while mixer is running slowly add each egg one at a time/do not add next egg until 1st egg has been completely incorporated

4) stop mixer and add the 700grams of flour and your sponge (after the required 30min has lasped)

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5) using a dough hook mix on low speed until flour and sponge has been mixed

6) change speed to medium high and mix for another 5-8min until dough has completely pulled away from sides

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7) remove 120grams of the dough and round-up and cover (we will use this to decorate the top of bread) rest for 30min

8) add raisins to balance dough and mix until well combined

9) round-up raisin dough – cover and rest for 30min

Raisin Dough - after round-up

Raisin Dough – after round-up

10) after 30min take the plain dough and divide into 12 – 10gram pieces and round-up and cover and let rest for 10min

11) after 30min take the raisin dough and divide dough into 4 equal pieces and cover and let rest for 10min

12)  Decoration for top of Bread

take the 24 plain dough pieces and roll into long strands – about 6″ inches long – KEEP dough covered as you continue to roll and shape dough

Plain dough into strands

Plain dough into strands

– once you finish the last piece start again with 1st strand and roll even longer – about 12″ in length

– OK here is the tricky part/ you are going to make separate decorations to put on 2 loaves : divided your 12 strands into 2 – so you have 6 pieces to work with

– make a grid pattern as below with a basket weave – over/under method

Grid Pattern of 6 strands

Grid Pattern of 6 strands

Braided 4 points

Braided 4 points

– take each 4 points and braid 3 strands / so you end up with 4 braided strands on each point

– in my above photo the centre is not tight enough/ there should not be so many gaps

– repeat with other 12 strands to make 2nd cross

13)  take 2 of your raisin dough round-up doughs and place each braid design over top – make sure each four ends of braid go under loaf

Braided cross ontop of loaf

Braided cross on top of loaf

– I had some extra dough so I twisted 2 strands and placed them around bottom of loaf – it looked quite pretty

14) place bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and lightly egg wash top

15) proof until double the size

16) bake at 350F for 30-40min

Baked Paska

Baked Paska

Sooo yummy! I sprinkled some raw sugar on loaf after I had egg-washed it, which gave the bread a nice look.


Coloured Easter Egg Paska

NOTE – if you do not want to make the below Paska design you can just make 2 more simple loaves as above – OR as stated in the beginning/ just cut recipe in half

 

Before class I had done some reasearch on Paska bread and I found out that this type of bread is baked a lot with raw shelled eggs inside. This sounded so cool, and gave me an opportunity to experiment in class.  I coloured my RAW eggs in advance and brought them to school.

Colouring my raw shelled eggs

Colouring my raw shelled eggs

Coloured Eggs

Coloured Eggs

Directions

1) colour your raw shelled eggs/ I just used my regular food colouring with about a tablespoon of white vinegar and 1cup of hot water

2) if you have made the entire recipe you should have 2 rounded up dough left after making the two cross design bread

– divide these into 4 equal portions: this will make 2 Egg Paska loaves

3) roll the 4 dough portions into 4 -20″long strands (try to get them in equal widths and length)

4) take 2 of the 20″ strands and loop them around each other – leaving 5 small gaps where an egg could fit in ( sorry I forgot to take photo’s)

– bring two ends together to form a circle

5) place twisted circle dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper

6) egg-wash entire ring

7) add your coloured eggs to fit into each gap

Dough twisted with gaps for eggs

Dough twisted with gaps for eggs

8) sprinkle with nonpareil candies

9) proof for 40min

Egg-wash and sprinkles

Egg-wash and sprinkles

10) bake at 350F for 30min

Easter Egg Paska

Easter Egg Paska

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The eggs cook while the bread is baking, which is much better than boiling them!  This was a great treat, taking a piece of sweet bread and getting an egg as a bonus.  Even if this bread was not amazing (which it is), it for sure will be a show-stopper if you serve this at your next Easter Brunch. On top of that this can be one of your three eggs you must eat on Easter, so you will never get “the guile”!

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