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.