Paska, Ukrainian Easter Bread

Paska, ukrainisches Osterbrot

Has this ever happened to you? You want to make a specific recipe from your grandma. In my instance this was paska, the Ukrainian Easter bread. She even has two handwritten recipes in her tiny booklet. However, not even all ingredients are listed (such as flour) and there are no instructions. There is no oven temperature or even baking time. I did pull my hair when I realized that because my grandma passed away so I couldn’t ask her anymore. How am I supposed to make paska if there are no instructions and not even all ingredients listed? I remember that I confronted her on several occasions when she was still alive. Her reply was simple, you “feel” when the dough is right, you “know” how much sugar to add. Well, you may do if you make the recipe ten million times, but grandma, I am not you, I don’t feel or know anything! So instead I turned to Instagram and asked you guys if you knew of any good recipe. I was so astonished how many people actually replied and provided recipes to me. Thank you so much for that! I am so excited I got to make paska in the end, I had the chance of eating it during my childhood. My grandmother was born in the Ukraine in Odessa and she always served it for Easter.

Paska, ukrainisches OsterbrotWith the help of Youtube, your recipes, and some Internet research, I finally found a recipe, which sounded similar to what my grandma made. She always started one to two days before Easter. She never made anything below at least a kilo of flour. I remember her looking for coffee tins and other cans to get the traditional shape of the paska, which is a very tall, round, and high cylinder. My grandma’s paska had a thick white icing with colorful sprinkles. I know that you can create nice shapes with the yeast dough, braid it and what not, but this was not what I was used to, I remember eating the icing first. The sprinkles had to be colorful for sure. I find it crazy, because I don’t recall liking paska too much as a child, somehow I felt we had to eat for weeks from it and it was rather dry and stale. However, much to my surprise paska is similar to a brioche or babka, it is a rich yeast dough and is surprisingly moist.

Paska, ukrainisches OsterbrotI made my paska with a lot of love and hope. I made it in dear memory of my grandma, who was born in Odessa. I also baked paska out of pure desparation when I read and watch the news. The recipe made it on my blog as I am a bit nostalgic and also melancholic.

Credit: Youtube “Кулинарим с Таней” (in Russian)

Ukrainian Easter Bread Paska

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Serves: 2 paska breads, depending on size
Prep Time: 6hr Cooking Time: 1hr Total Time: 7hr

This traditional Ukrainian Easter bread named paska contains a rich yeast dough with butter and eggs and can also be made with different add-ons.

Ingredients

  • Paska
  • 100 grams of milk
  • 200 grams of regular sugar
  • 20 grams of fresh yeast or 7 grams of active-dry yeast
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 200 grams of sour cream
  • 400 grams + 170 grams = 570 grams of bread flour (you need flour with a high amount of proteins)
  • 80 grams of butter at room temperature
  • Optional: 150 grams of raisins (you can decrease the amount), or other add-ons such as dried cranberries, apricots, etc.

  • Glaze
  • 1 egg white
  • 150 grams of icing sugar
  • Colorful sprinkles

Instructions

1

For the paska slightly heat milk until lukewarm, you should still be able to put your finger in. Then add 20 grams of sugar and yeast to it. Measure 400 grams of the flour into a bowl and stir two tablespoons of it to your milk mix. Cover and let stand for about 20min. You should see some kind of reaction, bubbles or "hills", if you don't see any difference, you will need to start all over, either the heat killed the yeast or was not active anymore.

2

For the pre-dough beat the egg yolks with the sugar. First you will get some sort of crumbs, but soon it should change color, become lighter and also thicker in consistency. Briefly mix in vanilla extract and sour cream, add the yeast mix. While beating, slowly add the flour by the spoonful. At the end you should have some heavy batter that moves slowly. Cover and let rise for about 1-2 hours. Meanwhile weigh the butter and let sit at room temperature.

3

Move your dough to a large kneading bowl and measure an additional 170 grams of flour. Either knead in by hand or with the kneading hook for about 5 minutes on low speed. Slowly add the butter and again knead about 7 additional minutes. In total you should knead the dough about 15 minutes. It should look glossy and pull away from the bowl. Roll into a ball and place back in the bowl covered in a bit of oil. Cover and let rise for about 2 further hours, it should double in volume. You can meanwhile prepare your dry fruits. If you want to, you can soak them in rum or orange juice for extra flavor. You can also leave out.

4

Knead dough briefly on a surface with oiled hands. If you are adding raisins, etc., do this now. Briefly knead them in and then divide the dough into two equal parts. I put mine in round forms of 13cm and 8.5cm height, see here. Tip: for the tops of the paska not to crack, make sure all raisins etc. are not on the surface, but tucked away. Cover again and let rise for about 2 hours. As this is a sweet yeast dough with many ingredients, it usually takes longer for rising. Your paska should have at least doubled in size.

5

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Bake on lower rack for about an hour. If the top gets burned, cover with aluminium foil. An insterted toothpick should come out clean. Depending on your oven, this may take longer.

6

For the glaze beat the egg white with the icing sugar until you have a toothpaste-like consistency. Spread on the top of the paskas and sprinkle with sprinkles. Obviously, you can leave this out and only decorate with icing sugar or leave them plain. For me a real paska needs a thick glaze and colorful sprinkles to be the real deal.

Paska, ukrainisches Osterbrot

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Anne
    Friday March 25th, 2022 at 10:01 AM

    Liebe Jenny
    Mich überfordern auch diese Nachrichten. Wir haben uns vor 3 Wochen gemeldet, um ukrainische Flüchtlinge aufzunehmen und warten seither täglich darauf. Wir haben unser Gästezimmer hergerichtet und noch einen Schrank und eine Kommode gekauft. Ich freue mich sehr über dein Rezept und werde es ausprobieren. Vielleicht kann ich damit eine kleine Freude machen.
    Vielen Dank für deine Ausdauer, ein gutes Rezept zu finden.
    Herzliche Grüsse aus der Schweiz
    Anne

    • Reply
      Jenny
      Friday March 25th, 2022 at 10:29 AM

      Liebe Anne, das ist wahrscheinlich das Beste, was man machen kann.

      Einige deutschsprachige Foodblogger haben in letzter Zeit ukrainische Rezepte (Bortscht, Wareniki etc.) veröffentlicht, wenn du da noch mehr Bedarf hast, gib gerne Bescheid.

      Grüße,
      Jenny

  • Reply
    Britta von Backmaedchen 1967
    Saturday March 26th, 2022 at 10:32 AM

    Hallo Jenny, vielen Dank das du beim Blog-Event dabei bist. Dein Paska/Kulitsch ist ein schöner Beitrag und steht für die Solidarität zur Ukraine. Mir geht es wie dir, mich macht diese Situation unfassbar traurig. Schlimm das es in der heutigen Zeit noch solche Kriege geben muss.

    Liebe Grüße
    Britta

  • Reply
    zorra vom kochtopf
    Sunday April 17th, 2022 at 10:46 AM

    Das ist ein sehr köstliches Gebäck. Wir haben eine Variante ja auch beim #synchronbacken gemacht. Und stimmt, die Situation ist wirklich schlimm, wobei wir uns ja inzwischen schon etwas daran gewöhnt haben (leider). Ich wünsche dir trotzdem schöne Ostern.

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