Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ukrainian Paska "Easter" Bread

It's a Ukrainian Tradition, and for my family, albeit apart in distance, still argue every household needs at least two Paskas at Easter time! See, my family has both Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox backgrounds, so we tend to have many eastern-european traditions to follow.  Paska (pah-skah) is actually the Ukrainian word for easter, and this bread is hearty, soft, and made for the celebration of the season.
Khristos Voskrese! Voistinu Voskrese!

For us, this easter tradition includes not just paska, but also some amazing looking pysanky eggs (google it - I'm ordering a new kistka for next year), red easter eggs, kielbasa, ham, pierogi, and cabbage...  A true celebration of life and family.  Oh, we also enjoy egg cheese and paskacheese too -- which is nothing at all like this bread, but absolutely delicious! My family makes it without the nuts, well unless you include us hunkies in the kitchen cooking it!

A traditional bread that is semi sweet, full of raisins, and absolutely gorgeous.
Easter is not complete without some fresh braided Paska!
Complexity Level:  Medium

Paska "Easter" Bread
What You Need:
1/2 cup Sugar + 1/2 tsp (for the yeast)
1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast
2/3 cups Lukewarm Water
6-7 cups AP Flour
1 1/2 cups Milk
3 Eggs
6 tbsp Butter, melted
1 tsp Salt
2/3 cup Raisins
2/3 cup Golden Raisins

Egg Wash
1 Egg
2 tbsp Water
*In elevated areas, it is best to double the yeast.

Bread is a mysterious thing. Some days it works, some days it doesn't. But this recipe will also share some tips and tricks of getting your bread to be moist, plump, and delicious! Just bring a dash of patience and a cup of hope, and this will work for you! I assure you!

To start, place the milk into a small sauce pan and bring to heat to scald the milk. This literally means to make it hot without it bubbling or boiling, so heat it, don't boil it.  Once hot, remove from heat, stir in 1/2 cup of sugar, and let sit about 6-8 minutes.

While the milk is sitting, turn your tap water onto the hot setting. When it is hot to touch, pour 1/2 cup of the water into a pint glass (it's a trick). Stir in the 1/2 tsp of sugar and your yeast, then cover the glass with a wet paper towel.  This will sit for the 6-8 minutes while the milk does. The yeast will bubble, and rise, while the milk cools so as to not kill your now living yeast.

Now it' time to get the first part out of the way. In a large bowl, and with a spoon, sir the milk, eggs, yeast water, and the flour, 2 cups at a time.  After about 4 cups I dumped the dough onto a floured surface, and kneaded in the reaming flour. You do not want to over knead this. After about 6 cups of flour, the bread will be semi sticky, so slowly add more flour by the handful until its light, fluffy, and soft.

Place this into a well grease bowl, and leave to rise for 1-1 1/2 hours.  A trick to aid rising: Heat the oven to 180 degrees Fahrenheit with a glass dish of water on the low rack.  Turn off. Place the bowl of dough, covered with a wet towel, into the warm humid oven, and let sit 1 1/2 hours to allow to rise.

After rising, punch the dough twice in the center, pull up the edges and softly knead 3-4 times, then let rise a second time. This time will not take as long, as the yeast has started it's work, but it's best to let it sit at least 1 hour. After this round, punch the dough again, and place into a greased 10 inch spring form pan. To add braids, before placing into the spring form pan, cut some dough off, and roll it into ropes, design as desired, wrapping the ball of dough before placing in pan:

Some bakers make decorative bread knots and braids with a yeastless mixture of flour and water. While decorative, they are inedible. But I will say, they are pretty. For me, I like not to waste, so I just use some of the paska dough to decorate.

Finally, let this rise in the pan, which will really start to rise by now, so check it after 3 minutes. I have made the mistake of letting it sit for over an hour, and found it to be all over the counter too!
After rising, brush with an egg wash, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (electric) 325-330 (gas) about 15 minutes, cover the top lightly with foil, and bake 45-50 minutes. Remove the foil, and let the top brown for 5- more minutes.

Remove and let cool. This is very easily stored in plastic warp, but be cautious to wait no less than 2 hours to allow it to cool.  Otherwise the residual heat in the bread will steam up the plastic wrap, softening and wetting your gorgeous loaf.

That picture was taken at 2:30am. I went to my husbands 9pm Catholic Easter Vigil mass... and 3 hours later I go to finish my bread! Almost a catastrophe, but saved, baked, cooled, and wrapped for his easter sunday. And look!! That bread is as big, no definitely bigger than, my head!
Although 2 time zones apart, my mother and I made these together for the holiday. Text updates as the day progressed, me hoping to get a good loaf, my mother asking many question as she has never made bread from scratch. The final products of my bread have been posted throughout, however her day of labor turned out as such (she has a propane gas stove, quite difficult for bread making in my opinion):

Thanks for stopping by and making bread with me and ma!

Khristos Voskrese! Voistinu Voskrese!


  1. Looks good!! I love bread but im rarely brave enough to make it. Flour hates me

    1. Danielle! I was cracking up about your comment "flour hates me" lol. I used to think the same but I've conquered it, finally!!!! Thanks for visiting bb!

  2. Did I miss it? Where does the melted butter go?

    1. Good catch! It goes in when the milk does! I'll fix this ASAP! Thanks!


Thanks for Sharing your Thoughts and for visiting Bargain Bites today!

Cool List

Listed on: Website submission