The Fresh Loaf

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Ukranian Easter Bread--"Paskha"

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smasty's picture
smasty

Ukranian Easter Bread--"Paskha"

Growing up as the grandaughter of Ukranian immigrants, this was a staple every time we visited.  As relatives have died off, this isn't made in my family (in its true form) anymore.  I have a sister that makes it in a bread machine every so often, but it isn't the same.  I figured I'd make some practice loaves since Easter is coming up.  This is my first brioche since I started baking about 14 months ago.  The bread came out exactly as I remember from my childhood--a wonderful incredible crumb...yeasty, slightly sweet, delicate, tears in nice strands.  However...the crust is yucky.  Way too tough (as it always was growing up!).  The big loaf with the braid was HUGE....4.5 pounds after baking.  It took about 1 3/4 hours to bake (to 200 degrees internal)...I think that's what leads to the tough crust.  I don't know...maybe old-time Ukranians love the tough crust.  I'd like to learn how to avoid that next time---ideas? Oh...due to the overly dry crust, I find this bread tends to go stale really quickly, at which point it makes absolutely wonderful bread pudding.  The recipe is below the pics



Proofed!



Done...what you can't see is the bread split on the other side of the braid due to it's massive size and lack of support, so the braid ended up off-center



Crumb...fabulous


Original Recipe: (Caution...this makes a massive amount of dough! The first step can be done in your mixer, but is too big after that)


1 tsp sugar


1 c lukewarm water


2 packages dry yeast (note: yeasty flavor is desired)


3 c scalded milk


Tons of flour (14 c)


6 eggs, well beaten


2/3 c sugar


1/2 c melted butter


1 T salt


1 c raisins


Scald milk and let cool to lukewarm.  Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in water, add yeast and let stand 10 minutes.  Add milk to yeast and 5 c flour (I used 150 g. of KAF AP per cup). Beat well until smooth.  Cover and let rise in warm place until light and bubbly (for me, in Denver, this only took about 45 min due to high elevation).  Add eggs, 2/3 c sugar, butter, salt, raisins.  Mix well.  Add about 9 cups of flour or enough to make a moderately stiff dough (note: I only used about 7.5 cups).  Knead until dough no longer sticks to hands.  Turn dough out on floured board, knead until smooth and satiny.  Place in bowl to rise until double.  Punch down, let rise again to double.  Shape enough dough into round loaf to fill greased dutch oven about 1/2 full (I baked on my stone).  Let rise until double.  From remaining dough roll out ropes for braids.  After pinching off dough for braids, remaining dough can make another loaf.  (note: you can easily get 3 large loaves from this recipe).  Let ropes for braids rise (covered).  Just before dough is ready to be baked carefully place braids or ropes arranged in a cross on bread.  Use an egg wash over the entire loaf.  Bake in preheated oven--400 degrees for 15 minutes then lower oven to 350 for at least another hour.  Loosely cover loaves with foil to prevent overbrowning.  (I found I needed to move these to the lowest rack due to their height). Let cool in pans about 15 minutes before removing.  To facilitate removing loaf from dutch oven, wrap a damp, cool cloth around pan during cooling period.   


 

Comments

korish's picture
korish

I'm from Ukraine and always had paskha, and until this day we always make a batch for every Easter. One thing you can do is instead of making it as a free form put the dough in a well oven safe pot, just make sure that the sides are straight and it doesn't widen out on the bottom, butter the sides and the base of the pot well and then let the dough rise in it and bake in it. When it's done it will come out of the pot easily and you can also take some eggs white beat them with sugar then glaze the cap and sprinkle some colorful decoration. That's how we had it back in Ukraine and how my grandma and mother and I make it. 


 


Good luck


Dimtiry Mishchuk


http://www.ourwholesomehomes.com

MarilynMason's picture
MarilynMason

When I was little my mother made a similar loaf at Easter in which she embedded hard cooked eggs which had been colored.  I believe she put them in the dough before the bread set to raise.  What I don't know is were the eggs raw then or cooked?  Has anyone done this? 


I think Dimtiry Mishchuk's remembering that the wash was put on after the bread had been baked would probably keep this loaf from browning too quickly.  Is it possible do you think to take it out of the oven five minutes before it's done, add the egg wash and then put it back into the oven to finish?  Would that look the same?

smasty's picture
smasty

I've seen pics of bread with colored eggs baked into the top.  It wasn't anything my Ukranian family ever did though.  I would imagine if you did that w/ raw eggs they'd explode in the oven...I'm guessing they need to be boiled first. 

smasty's picture
smasty

Thanks for the comment.  Yeah...both the recipe and my grandmother used to bake the bread in a dutch oven. I will try that next time...and a smaller loaf.  I made a smaller loaf that came out really good...still with a tough crust though.  I think baking on the stone made the bottom crust extra tough.  I'm glad you are still baking the Paskha!

korish's picture
korish

because we bake ours in small containers meaning not bigger than a coffee can we never have a tuff crust and I never cover them wile baking. We usually take it out a bit earlier and then just let it sit out, but I think the main thing is the size of the bread. If you make a bread in a smaller container it will not have a hard crust on it.

smasty's picture
smasty

I will try that, thank you!!  Do you bake at the same temp in the recipe?  400 to start, then lower to 350? 

korish's picture
korish

I had to Pull ot my recipebook to look up the baking temp.


 


we bake 300 for 45 minutes and 250 for another 45.

smasty's picture
smasty

I can't wait to try it again using a lower temp...I think that would make a much better bread.  Thank you so much!!!


Sue

katzinchen's picture
katzinchen

Hi, your bread looks beautiful. My Polish father told me his mother used to bake an Easter loaf in the shape of a rabbit with hard-boiled eggs for the eyes.


smasty's picture
smasty

Thanks katzinchen.  There's so many "old country" recipes that sort of die off I think--they just don't get passed down through generations and actually made.  It feels good to be resurrecting this.


Sue

katzinchen's picture
katzinchen

I'm going to make your bread for Easter!