Paska Bread (Ukrainian or Polish Easter Bread)

Paska Bread

I’m trying to cover all of my heritage bases with Easter recipes this year :)  My mom’s side of the family is Italian and that is where I get the majority of my Easter recipes; things like Italian Easter Bread, Pigu, Bacon and Cheese Easter Bread and Italian Easter Pie. On my dad’s side of the family, my grandmother is Polish and my grandfather is Irish. I don’t know as much about those food traditions, but I’m trying to take the opportunity each year to learn more.  A few months ago, my grandma shared this recipe for Paska bread with me. She said she got it years ago from a woman she began chatting with at a department store. They talked about recipes and the woman took down my grandma’s address and said she would send her the family’s Paska recipe. Lo and behold, a few days later, a handwritten recipe showed up in my grandma’s mailbox. As someone who loves to talk about food and share recipes, I just love that story!

Paska Bread

This Paska bread recipe is a traditional brioche dough recipe, enriched with egg yolks and sugar, then studded with golden raisins and baked up in loaf pans. I’ve seen some Paska breads shaped free-form in decorative designs, and you could definitely do that as well if you’d like. The raisins are optional and you could definitely omit them if you’d like (my mom hates raisins in her baked goods!).

Do you have any favorite ethnic Easter recipes? I’d love to learn more about traditional Easter food from different areas!

Paska Bread

One year ago: My Favorite Florida Eats
Two years ago: Baked Doughnuts with Cinnamon Sugar
Three years ago: Japanese Hamani Menu for Cherry Blossom Festivals
Four years ago: Lasagne Verdi al Forno
Five years ago: Ambrosia Cupcakes

Paska Bread

Yield: 3 (8-inch) loaves

Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

A traditional Eastern European Easter bread, Paska is a sweet, brioche-like dough that's studded with golden raisins.

Ingredients:

2 cakes fresh yeast (or substitute 2 packets active dry yeast - 4½ teaspoons)
2 cups whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees F
7 to 8 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
5 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup golden raisins (optional)

For the Egg Wash:
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, stir the yeast into the warm milk to dissolve and let sit for 5 minutes. Add 3 cups flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free area until the dough has doubled in size.

2. If you choose to use the golden raisins, soak the raisins for 30 minutes in warm water, then drain and pat dry with paper towels before using.

3. Transfer the dough to the bowl of an electric mixer and add the sugar, melted butter, egg yolks, salt, vanilla, golden raisins and 4 cups of flour. Mix on low to medium-low speed until the dough comes together, adding more flour a tablespoon at a time, if needed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it forms a smooth dough, about 5 minutes, again adding more flour a tablespoons at a time, if needed. Divide the dough into three equal sections and shape into loaves, then transfer to three 8x4-inch greased loaf pans. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the tops of the loaves with the egg wash.

5. Bake the loaves for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 40 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. If the loaves are beginning to get too dark, place a tented or loose piece of foil over top. Allow the bread to cool for about 20 minutes in the pans, then turn the loaves onto a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap leftover bread in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Notes:

  • This bread freezes well. Wrap baked loaves in plastic wrap and then in foil and store in the freezer. Alternatively, wrap loaves in plastic wrap then place in airtight freezer bags.
  • If you are using dark, non-stick loaf pans, be sure to reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees F.

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51 Responses to “Paska Bread (Ukrainian or Polish Easter Bread)”

  1. Averie @ Averie Cooks on March 27, 2013 at 2:40 am

    I love golden raisins and this bread looks like something my Russian-Polish grandmother used to make! Love the story how you came to obtain the recipe!

    Reply

  2. teresa on March 27, 2013 at 5:15 am

    I Love bread!1 Of all kinds! This one is no exception, it looks so soft! With butter, right out of the oven, mmmm…!
    Just one thing, how much is a cake of yeast?
    In Portugal we have a traditionnal Easter bread called Folar de Páscoa, flavored with cinnamon and anise, and decorated with hard boiled eggs.

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 28th, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Hi Teresa, Cakes of yeast are sold in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. I believe they are 2 ounces.

      Reply

  3. Irina on March 27, 2013 at 6:03 am

    Thanks Michelle. I may try this and let you know. I grew up with this type of babka that my grandma’s neighbor used to make for Easter. Although they were shaped like a stand up cylinder.

    Reply

  4. morri on March 27, 2013 at 6:22 am

    Wow! I’m Polish and I’ve never had this sort of bread on Easter. Google shows me that it’s a regional dish made predominantly in the Eastern provinces, especially in the Orthodox communities (the fact that it doesn’t have a Polish wikipedia entry is a bit telling). It’s definitely more of a Russian/Ukrainian specialty. The majority of Poles celebrate Easter with a yeast babka (which is more or less the same dough as paska, but baked in a bundt pan), or mazurek, or cheesecake, or maybe even a paskha (a tasty dessert made of curd cheese, sugar, vanilla, yolks, nuts, and all sorts of dried fruit and mixed peel). Paskha-the-dessert has Russian origins too, but somehow it gained much more popularity than paska-the-bread ;)

    Reply

  5. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppersj on March 27, 2013 at 6:54 am

    My Husband is Polish. I have to ask him about this bread, if he knows it. I might make it for him as a surprise this weekend! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

  6. Yen on March 27, 2013 at 7:43 am

    May i know what is 2 cakes fresh yeast?
    And you mentioned substitute 200ml warm milk and yeast -> how much yeast to add?
    Thanks :)
    Haopy Easter Holidays!

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 28th, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Fresh yeast is a type of yeast (vs. active dry or instant) and can be found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. You don’t substitute milk for the yeast; milk is part of the ingredients of the recipe. See the ingredient list above for the active dry yeast substitution.

      Reply

  7. Tom Mix on March 27, 2013 at 8:08 am

    What is 2 cakes fresh yeast? What would I substitute and where can I buy it?

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 28th, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      Yeast comes in three forms – fresh (called cakes), active dry and instant. The fresh yeast is sold in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets. See the ingredient list above for the active dry substitution.

      Reply

  8. Liz @ The Shrinking Owl on March 27, 2013 at 8:08 am

    I asked my dear friend Joanna, who is originally from Poland, and she said that they make something similar in a bundt cake pan and call it “babka”, and they coat it in confectioner’s sugar.

    This looks delicious.

    Reply

  9. Kris on March 27, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Definitely Eastern European/Orthodox.

    Thanks for the recipe. My husband is Orthodox and I may just be nice enough to make him Paska for Easter since there is no way any bakery will have it on May 5th which is Orthodox Easter this year.

    Reply

  10. Kasha the FarmGirl on March 27, 2013 at 8:26 am

    I would hide myself away with a loaf of this bread and a stick of cold, sweet butter.

    Reply

  11. Kimberly on March 27, 2013 at 9:34 am

    My Busia (Polish for grandmother)use to make a variation of this recipe. The problem was…she did not have a recipe. She made all her breads and pastries by “feel” and they always tasted amazing! Cannot wait to try this recipe!

    Reply

  12. katsbynp on March 27, 2013 at 9:37 am

    My grandmother who was from Poland made this every year. She always made a few loaves and took one to be blessed in the Easter basket on Holy Saturday. Thanks for posting and bringing back some good memories. I may try to make the bread for Easter Sunday.

    Reply

  13. Cookin Canuck on March 27, 2013 at 9:45 am

    My father-in-law is Polish and I know he would love it if I made him this bread. Thanks for the recipe, Michelle!

    Reply

  14. Marcie @ Flavor The Moments on March 27, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Wow, this bread looks amazing, and reading the ingredients list, it has to be good! I love the sunny, brightness that the golden raisins give it.

    Reply

  15. Lianne on March 27, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Yummy! I wlll try this. But like the other ladies – I was wondering about the 2 cakes of yeast?? And what would the substitute be??

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 28th, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Hi Lianne, Cakes of yeast is the fresh version of yeast and usually found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. I have the measurements in the ingredient list above for substituting active dry yeast.

      Reply

  16. marie @ little kitchie on March 27, 2013 at 10:38 am

    absolutely gorgeous bread!

    Reply

  17. Morgan L on March 27, 2013 at 11:30 am

    My polish grandmother makes this every year! I always request a loaf (or two) to take home with me. I can’t get enough. I might attempt this recipe to see how it compares to hers. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  18. Julie on March 27, 2013 at 11:45 am

    My grandmother was Polish, and she made a holiday bread that was very similar for both Christmas and Easter. Our family just called it “homemade bread,” and I haven’t come across the name paska, although I’ve tried to uncover the origins of her recipe. Fortunately, my aunt wrote up a recipe while my grandmother was still alive, and I recently simplified or “modernized” it if you will by making it more precise. When the women in my family have tried to make it in the past, they’ve had to cross fingers and pray for good results because the bread was always a 50-50 chance of success. One funny thing is that my grandma’s recipe also called for the “cake” type yeast which I never find. And, my grandma was from Pittsburgh btw. Anyway, here’s a link to my version of her bread:
    http://www.aminglingoftastes.com/2012/12/polish-holiday-sweet-bread.html

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 28th, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      Aw, I love it! Thanks for sharing your link!

      Reply

  19. Hari Chandana on March 27, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Looks fantastic.. nice clicks too !!

    Reply

  20. Kristin on March 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I love that you posted this! It’s the bread my grandmother has always made for Christmas and Easter. I’ll be making my batch on Friday. Half the dough becomes poppyseed roll and the other half is made into loaves (usually with a little dough-cross pressed into the top of each one for Easter). I love that you use the golden raisins, just like we do – regular raisins just aren’t the same in this bread!

    Reply

  21. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking on March 27, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Such a lovely bread! I love that it’s full of juicy raisins.

    Reply

  22. Lynne on March 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Hi, my maternal grandmother was Polish (off the boat), and my maternal grandfather was of Irish descent (2nd generation) like your dad’s side. I noticed your Italian Easter pie that was traditional to break Easter fast on the Saturday before Easter. The Polish tradition was to not break fast until after Church on Easter Sunday, so we have Easter breakfast/brunch which includes kielbasa, lots of eggs, and baked beans (which I think came from the Irish side of the family). We have a sweet bread tradition – pecan rolls – but I don’t think it has anything to do with Paska, I don’t remember my grandmother making anything like that. Probably my favorite Polish dish – one I crave and have to make every so often is Kapusta.

    Reply

  23. Laurie B on March 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Wow, I’m half Polish & half Italian too! I KNEW I liked you! My brother will be thrilled to have this Easter Bread recipe because years ago we tried to make it from a relative’s “hand full of this and spoonful of that” type directions, and we made an Easter brick!

    Reply

  24. Cheryl E. on March 27, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Being of Ukrainian descent I appreciate you posting this recipe!! Your Paska looks beautiful!!

    Reply

  25. Gloria @ Simply Gloria on March 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    The texture looks amazing! Everything looks so gorgeous!

    Reply

  26. Jayne on March 27, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    My husband’s Baba used to make this but also added orange zest – I’m wondering how much to add. Maybe 1/4 cup for whole recipe?

    Reply

  27. Catherine on March 27, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Pinning this to try sometime. Looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  28. Christine on March 27, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I grew up with this Paska bread for Easter. My Grandparents came over from the Ukraine as Mennonite Refugees. The ladies in the village where they came from originally would stack their egg shells on the fence posts as a quiet boast of how rich they were and could add many eggs to their dough. Our Paska is still baked in tin cans so they are cylindrical and have a muffin top. This top is then decorated with icing glaze topped with small jelly eggs, marshmellow rabbits, coconut or whatever is Easterish decor! Every child gets to decorate his own and for their friends! Grandma (92 yrs) has the Great-Grandkids come and bring their Paska for her to decorate! The bread is sliced from the bottom up in circles to be toasted and eaten with butter. It was always too dry to just eat without toasting after the first day out of the oven. BTW: I use 1 TBSP yeast for a Cake.
    There is nothing hard about making them and we do some with raisins and without. Try Craisins!

    Reply

  29. Tieghan on March 28, 2013 at 12:11 am

    I have been needing a new bread recipe! I am very excited about this!

    Reply

  30. Laura Dembowski on March 28, 2013 at 8:40 am

    I have never heard of Paska bread before but so glad to have found it now! Looks like quite a treat.

    Reply

  31. Shannon on March 28, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    sounds and looks alot like what we call babka! I use the base sweet dough to make a nut roll and poppyseed bread, yum :)
    tri2cook.blogspot.com/2012/05/poppyseed-bread.html

    Reply

  32. Terri on March 28, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    I love Paska bread! When I was in high school I worked at a local bakery that always sold Paska bread. However you couldn’t get a loaf until you answered the litany of Paska related questions: large loaf or small, round or square, plain or raisins, sliced or unsliced! All of their breads were terrific and when they closed it was truly a sad day.

    Reply

  33. katie on March 29, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Oh my… I love paska bread! This is a family tradition that we do during every holiday! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Reply

  34. Justyna on March 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I live in Poland and i’ve never heard about that. sounds pretty awesome though, i’ll try it for sure.

    Reply

  35. Dee Botson Miller on March 30, 2013 at 9:04 am

    It’s so refreshing to see how many people are aware of paska bread! I am proud to say my mother kept the traditional Slovak/Polish Easter and Christmas Eve foods. I have many fond memories of making paska with her and the tradition is now passed on to my daughters. My daughter came home for this Easter and I had to wait until today to make my paska with her :)

    Reply

    • Dee Botson Miller on March 30th, 2013 at 9:14 am

      I wanted to add that we bake our paska bread round and set some of the dough aside and roll 3 pieces to braid for the top of the bread (to represent the crown of thorns Jesus wore on Good Friday). Traditionally the bread was made on Good Friday and Easter baskets were taken to church on Saturday to have the food blessed. Sadly enough it is difficult in the area I live to find a church that stills does this.

      Reply

      • Christine on April 19th, 2014 at 4:20 pm

        Dee, this was my tradition also! I grew up with my grandmother’s Easter paska. My grandparents were Polish-Ukrainian and came from the “old country” to settle in Peekskill, NY. My grandmother would make the paska, sweet poppy seed bread, homemade cheese and butter. My Grandfather would grate the freshly dug horseradish (fiery!) and add some beets to some of it to cut the heat for those who couldn’t take it plain. All of this would go into a gigantic basket along with the ham and kielbasa, with beautiful painted eggs and Easter candles, to take to church Saturday night to be blessed. It was a joyous holiday and holds special memories of my mother’s large happy family. This recipe has the same ingredients of my grandmother’s bread (except vanilla ). Just one comment for Michelle however: To be traditional, the bread must be round. I use Corning Ware souffle dishes (straight sides), 8″-10″. I have even made it in a cast iron dutch oven for one huge loaf. Thanks for sharing this wonderful authentic Ukrainian recipe and childhood memories. My paska is rising as I write!

        Reply

  36. Dominik on April 6, 2013 at 6:31 am

    Ilive in Poland and i never heard abaut Paska bread so i think that it must be Ukrainian or Belarus. In Poland on Easter we often make Pascha (Paskha in english). You can find some information on wiki about it. On christmas traditional we make Chałka (Challah from jewish) also to see in wikipedia.

    Reply

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  38. Betty on July 12, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I come from Romania and we eat this on Eastern, but is a kind of pie, with cream cheese and raisins filling, we call is Pasca. it’s not really a bread, more like a sweet treat

    Reply

  39. Justynka on April 11, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I’ve found this recipe a year after your post, and it looks like the best one I’ve found! The others hardly resemble paska. I will definitely try it this year. I’m originally from southern Poland near the Slovak border, and we are Roman Catholic. My parents make this every year. I didn’t know that it wasn’t Polish, however (I have always associated it with über-Polski Easter celebrations). I have heard of babka (which is popular in NYC bakeries, for example, and I’ve seen it in patisseries in Québec), but THAT I’ve never had, so the Polish paska vs babka divide must be regional. Interesting comments!

    Reply

  40. Diane on April 19, 2014 at 7:41 am

    I bookmarked this last yr and made it last night. Fantastic! My family has mad a version of this forever but the directions were very spotty. I have never baked with yeast and I needed a recipe! The torch of Paska or as we cAll it, Babka, has now been passed to me :) thanks so much fir this and for all your wonderful recipes! And love your doggies too. Happy Easter!

    Reply

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  43. Christine on April 19, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Michelle, to be traditional, the bread must be round. I use Corning Ware souffle dishes (straight sides), 8″-10″. I have even made it in a cast iron dutch oven for one huge loaf. The recipe is accurate for the slavish/Polish tradition. I grew up with my grandmother’s Easter paska. My grandparents were Polish-Ukrainian. My grandmother would make the paska, sweet poppy seed bread, homemade cheese and butter. My Grandfather would grate the freshly dug horseradish (fiery!) and add some beets to some of it to cut the heat for those who couldn’t take it plain. All of this would go into a gigantic basket along with the ham and kielbasa, with beautiful painted eggs and Easter candles, to take to church Saturday night to be blessed. It was a joyous holiday and holds special memories of my mother’s large happy family. Thanks for sharing this wonderful authentic Polish-Ukrainian recipe. My paska is rising as I write!

    Reply

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