Paska (Easter) Bread

Paska bread is a Ukrainian Easter bread.  We would have some every year for Easter dinner. Here in Florida, I haven't seen any bakeries carrying the bread, so I asked my dad for a recipe so that we could attempt to make some on our own. He sent me a recipe from the book Ukrainian Easter.


Ingredients:

3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 yeast cakes (fresh, not dry yeast)
1 cup flour

Mix 3/4 cup lukewarm water, sugar, and yeast cakes till dissolved in a small bowl.
Add 1 cup flour, stir until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place until bubbly, about one hour.

12 egg yolks (do not substitute whole eggs)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
3 cups flour , unsifted

In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks, sugar, and cooled melted butter. Add the yeast mixture prepared above; beat well. Gradually add the 3 cups of unsifted flour. This dough will be very soft. Knead or mix well, scrapping sides of bowl. Brush dough with melted butter. Place in a buttered bowl, cover with a towel, and set in a warm place to rise until double in bulk, approx. 2 hours.


To shape, knead lightly on a floured board, shape to fit the bottom of your bread pans. Fill pans (well greased with shortening) only  1/3 full. Place loaves in a warm place to rise until double. Bake in a 350 F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. For a golden gloss, brush top of Paska with an egg yolk wash (egg yolk well beaten with a little water) about 10 minutes before end of baking time. (Brush with egg glaze too soon will risk over browning.)
When done, remove from oven handling very gently. Remove from baking pans to an oven rack covered with a dish towel. When cooled, paska bread may be stored in plastic bags in freezer. If 2 lb coffee cans are used for bread pans, this recipe will make 4 loves.


We had to make a few adaptations from the original. First of all, we seem to live in a fresh yeast wasteland, so we had to convert to the instant dry yeast we had. For this, we substituted 5 1/2 tsp of dry yeast for the 2 fresh cakes the recipe called for. We also didn't have coffee cans, or even enough bread pans. We made two full loaves in the bread pans we had, and two smaller loaves in some throw away pans that we had from a lasagna night a while back. Lastly, we don't own a cooling rack yet, so I lined a plate with some bamboo skewers to allow the bread to cool on those.

Since this was my first attempt at making paska bread, I didn't add any decoration or mix-ins (like raisins). Maybe next year I will be a little more adventurous and attempt some. I'm happy with the end result, though, as it tasted delicious - light and fluffy, slightly sweet and just like Easter.