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I'm a 30-something wife and mom. My boys are my pride and joy. Together, we are navigating being a forever family post international adoption.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Easter Bread (aka Paska aka Kulich)


Time: 30 minutes baking, 4 hours resting
Skill level: Medium
Makes: 3 loafs

Based on this recipe from Natasha's Kitchen

The original recipe I used stated it takes slightly over 6 hours to make this bread, but nobody's got time for that!

To speed things up, I proofed the yeast and also let the bread rise in a 100°F oven with the door slightly ajar. This cut the resting time in about half, hence making it a much more do-able recipe for those of us who don't like to spend all day in the kitchen. Gestures to self.

You will need to decide what to bake your bread in. If you would like, you can purchase spring-form pans or panettone paper molds. I decided to go old school and bake mine in a coffee can. I actually used 2 coffee cans and 1 large pork and beans can. This gave my bread the tube-like appearance that is traditional for paska. To keep them from sticking, I lined the tins with parchment paper.

Ingredients:
Bread:
- 1 C warm water, about 105°F
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp or 2 packets of active dry yeast
- 1 C and 2 Tbsp warm milk (I used skim)
- 2 C granulated sugar
- 1 C unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 C sour cream (I used reduced fat)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 6 eggs, room temperature
- 9 C all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 C golden raisins

Egg Wash:
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp milk

Icing:
- 2 C icing sugar
- The juice of 2-3 lemons
- Colorful sprinkles

Instructions:
- If using aluminum cans, make sure to wash them appropriately before starting. This was pretty easy with the coffee tins, but took a bit more elbow grease for the pork and beans tin. They will need time to dry before lining with parchment. I also used a can opener to remove the lip of the tin, making it easier to use as a baking pan but dangerously sharp along the edge. Be careful!

- To proof the yeast, add 1 Tbsp of sugar to the warm water. Mix in the yeast and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes until a creamy foam forms on the surface of the water. If this doesn't happen, the yeast is dead and you should start again with fresh yeast.

- Whisk together in a large bowl the warm milk, sugar, melted butter, salt, sour cream, vanilla and yeast mixture. Slowly incorporate the eggs while whisking to prevent them from scrambling. Add 4 cups of flour to form a batter with a sour cream-like consistency. Place in a warm oven and let rise for about an hour.

- Add about 5 more cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, using a hand mixer with a bread paddle attachment. Don't use a regular had mixer, unless you want to burn the motor out of it! The dough should no longer stick to your hands but still be soft and slightly tacky. Stir in the raisins and place the dough back into the oven for another hour to rise.

- Divide the dough unto your three baking tins until they are between 1/2 and 2/3 full. Try not to push the dough down too much. If you would like to decorate the top, make sure to reserve some dough for that. Let the dough rise in the oven for another hour or until the molds are almost full.

- To decorate the tops of the loaves, you can use your creativity and imagination. I decided to decorate only one loaf. I rolled some dough out into ropes and braid them and wrapped the braids around the outside of the loaf. I then made three crosses and a dove to symbolize the Easter story. I brushed the tops of each of the three loaves with an egg wash of whole egg and milk, like I do when I make makivnyk. The egg wash also helps the decorations to stick.

-Bake the loaves at 350°F for about 30-35 minutes until the tops are golden brown and they are cooked through. If the tops brown too quickly, cover them with aluminum foil. You can tell the bread is done by knocking on the base of the pan. If it sounds hollow, it's done. If it sounds muffled, it's probably still underdone in the center. Let the loaves cool to room temperature and remove from the cans.

- While the paska is cooling, make the icing. In a medium bowl, whisk together the icing sugar and the lemon juice. If you roll the lemons before slicing them in half, they will give up more juice. You can adjust the lemon to taste by using water as a substitute. The final product should be smooth and pretty runny so it will glaze the paska when poured over top. Before the icing sets, you can also top the paska with colorful sprinkles.

- to slice, I like to put the paska on it's side and cut it into 1/2" rounds, or as thick as desired. It also makes great toast and french toast!

Happy Easter! Христос воскрес! Воістину воскрес!

2 comments:

  1. Wow! I'd like to stretch my chops round that! (Never mind the turning on the side slicing method!)

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    Replies
    1. It turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself!

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