Traditional Paska Bread makes a sweet and delightful addition to your Easter table. This easy-to-make sweet bread uses pantry staple ingredients to make a soft and tender loaf of bread. Studded with golden raisins and a braided top, this delicious bread is the perfect addition to your Easter celebrations. 

A loaf of paska bread on a parchment paper lined plate with a slice on the right side and a towel on the left side.

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 was 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 while 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!

What is Paska?

When I first set out to make the recipe I wanted to learn a little more about where it originated and how it’s served.

Paska is a traditional Easter bread from Ukraine and eastern Europe. In Russia, this sweet, eggy bread is called Kulich. It’s most often made in the spring to celebrate Easter. The word Paska translates to “Easter” in most eastern European cultures (except Finland where it’s a 4-letter word).

Traditionally, paska bread is made and taken to church Easter morning to be blessed and then brought home to be enjoyed with Easter meals.

A tall loaf of paska bread with a slice cut down the front and the missing slice laying on it's side to the right.

Ingredients for 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. The raisins are optional and you could definitely omit them if you’d like.

  • Whole Milk: The milk gives this bread a softer crust and a rich texture.
  • Instant Yeast: Helps the bread rise to towering heights.
  • Sugar: Sweetens the bread as well as feeds the yeast to help the dough grow.
  • Butter: Gives the dough a softer finish similar to a brioche.
  • Eggs: Binds the ingredients together while also lending a little color to this bread. 
  • Vanilla + Salt: All the flavor!
  • Flour: I use all-purpose flour in this recipe. 
  • Raisins: These add a little sweetness and are totally optional- my mom would omit them!
  • Egg wash: Made from mixing an egg with water to glaze the top before baking.
  • Coarse sugar: For sprinkling on top, optional but highly recommended. 

The ingredients for paska bread in bowls on the counter labeled with purple labels.

How to Make Paska Bread

I’m breaking this down into steps to walk you through the process; first, we make the dough, then shape the loaf, and bake the bread. Let’s do it!

Make the Bread Dough

  • Activate the yeast: Warm the milk to a temperature between 100°F and 110°F (usually 30 seconds in the microwave should do the trick). Pour the warmed milk into a mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over top and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, until foamy.

Side by side photos of the paska bread dough in a white bowl, on the left a whisk mixes the ingredients and on the right the yeast activates in the bowl.

  • Add liquid ingredients: Add sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla to the bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Make a shaggy dough: Add the flour and the salt into the bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. If using, add the golden raisins.

Three side by side photos of the steps to make the dough for paska bread. of the

  • Knead the dough: Using the dough hook, knead on medium-low speed until a smooth, shiny ball of dough is formed, 3 to 6 minutes, adding additional flour as necessary. (You can also knead by hand until a smooth ball is formed.)
  • Let dough rise: Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft0free spot until double in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Paska bread dough rising in a bowl with a towel over the top left corner.

Form and Shape the Dough

  • Divide the dough: Punch the dough down and remove it from the bowl to a clean work area. Remove one-quarter of the dough and set aside. 
  • Shape the base: Form the large piece of dough into a ball and place in a 9-inch round cake pan or a springform pan.
  • Braid the dough: Divide the remaining dough into three pieces and roll them each into 20-inch strands. Braid the three strands together for one long braid.

On the left a photo of the dough divided, in the middle the braided dough, and on the right a cake pan with the paska dough topped with the braided dough.

  • Top the dough: Divide the braid in half and use it to form a cross over the top of the large ball of dough in the pan. Alternately you can wrap the braid in one length around the inside edge of the pan.
  • Allow to rise: Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy and nearly double in size, 45 to 60 minutes.

Bake the Paska Bread

  • Set the oven: Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Make the egg wash: Whisk together the egg and water, then brush evenly all over the top of the dough and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake the paska: Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers to 190°F. You can tent the pan with aluminum foil if it is browning too quickly.
  • Cool the bread: Remove from the oven, turn the bread out of the pan, and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

A photo of the top of the paska bread on parchment paper with a towel to the left.

Frosting and Glaze

We enjoy this paska bread recipe as is, but if you are looking to sweeten it up even more, try topping the bread with a simple powdered sugar and milk glaze or one of the following:

Toppings and Mix-ins

  • Traditional topping: Paska is often eaten with hrudka which is a bland, sweet custard similar to cheese.
  • Other Toppings: Aside from frosting or a glaze you can top this sweet bread with sprinkles!
  • Mix-ins: Chocolate chips, raisins or craisins, or candied fruits mix beautifully in the dough.

A loaf of paska bread with one slice take out on the left side with a knife on the left counter.

Storing, Freezing, Making Ahead

  • Storing: Keep cooled paska bread in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. 
  • Freezing: Wrap the cooled paska bread in a tight coat of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil. Then store in a freezer-safe bag for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
  • Making ahead: You can make this 1 day in advance of serving it, to keep it as fresh as possible. Once cooled, wrap it tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and keep it at room temperature until serving.
  • Leftovers: If you don’t want to freeze any of the leftover paska I would suggest slicing and using the bread in French toast or a bread pudding.

A tall loaf of paska bread with a slice cut down the front and the missing slice laying on it's side to the right.

Other Delicious Easter Recipes

Paska Bread

This Easter, delight your family with a loaf of this sweet Paska Bread. Made with pantry staple ingredients, this raisin studded bread is sure to be a show-stopper! Slather it with butter, a sweet glaze, or homemade icing for a delicious treat!

If you make this Paska Bread recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

A square photo of a loaf of paska bread on a parchment paper with a slice in the front right.

Paska Easter Bread

This soft, sweet Paska Bread recipe is a traditional Ukrainian Easter bread recipe. The perfect sweet bread for your Easter day meals.
3.78 (58 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees F
  • teaspoons (2.25 teaspoons) instant yeast, 0.25-ounce packet
  • ½ cup (99 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (480 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
  • 1 cup (160 g) golden raisins, optional

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Coarse sugar, for sprinkling, optional

Instructions 

  • Warm the milk to between 100 to 110 degrees F (usually 30 seconds in the microwave does the trick!) and pour into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over top and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, until foamy.
  • Add the sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract, and stir to combine.
  • Add the flour and the salt and stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. Add the golden raisins then, using the dough hook, knead on medium-low speed until a smooth, shiny ball of dough is formed, 3 to 6 minutes, adding additional flour as necessary. (You can also knead by hand until smooth ball is formed.) Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours (rise time will depend on temperature and humidity in your kitchen).
  • Punch dough down and remove from the bowl to a clean work area. Remove one-quarter of the dough and set aside. Form the large piece of dough into a ball and place in a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan.
  • Divide the remaining piece of dough into three pieces and roll them each out into a 20-inch strand. Braid the three strands together for one long braid. Divide the braid in half and use it to form a cross over the top of the large ball of dough in the pan. (Alternately, you can wrap the braid in one length around the inside edge of the pan.)
  • Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy and nearly doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Whisk together the egg and water, then brush evenly all over the top of the dough and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 190 degrees F. You can tent the pan with aluminum foil if it is browning too quickly. Remove from the oven, turn the bread out of the pan, and place it on a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

  • Equipment: 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan.
  • Golden Raisins: You can substitute regular raisins, other chopped dried fruit, or omit entirely.
  • Doubling Recipe: This recipe is easily doubled if you'd like to make two loaves - one for eating and one for gifting (or for your freezer!).
  • Storing: Keep cooled paska bread in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. 
  • Freezing: Wrap the cooled paska bread in a tight coat of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil. Then store in a freezer-safe bag for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
  • Making ahead: You can make this 1 day in advance of serving it, to keep it as fresh as possible. Once cooled, wrap it tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and keep it at room temperature until serving.
  • Leftovers: If you don't want to freeze any of the leftover paska I would suggest slicing and using the bread in French toast or a bread pudding.
Nutritional values are based on one serving
Calories: 291kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 53mg, Sodium: 125mg, Potassium: 200mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 211IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 44mg, Iron: 2mg

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Photography by Dee Frances