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wtylcf

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I'm baking 2 Ukrainian paskas for Easter right now - I'm not religious anymore, but baking paska is a time-honoured tradition, and bread-baking is something I really enjoy. Also, bread is a really photogenic and beautiful thing. Here's some of my more attractive Easter paskas baked over the years:

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Fingers crossed that this year's editions turn out as well!

Any other hobbyist bread-bakers around? I'm pretty sure that there are, based on my perusal of the recipe thread...

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This year's paskas:

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I decided to go non-traditional this year (no crosses) and to attempt flowers, and it was a lot of fun!

I seem to recall creating a similar thread last year but I don't know if it's my imagination playing tricks on me or not...so apologies if you've heard this one before!

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Thanks! It is just bread without a filling - very dense, sweet, eggy, citrusy bread. It is the best toasted!

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What gorgeous breads! Seriously, after I read your post I googled paska to check out some recipes and the photos of yours were the most beautiful. Real works of art and ALMOSt too good to eat. Would you be willing to share your recipe?

I'm a major bread hobbyist. I got interested in it a couple of years ago, thanks to Artisan Bread in 5, and quickly got hooked. I bake all of our bread now, including sourdoughs (my original starter got kilt ded during Sandy), bagels, sandwich breads, rolls, pretzels, flatbreads, you name it. Last year, I spent my vacation in a week-long course at the French Culinary Institute and had the best time. Gave me a lot of confidence to start creating my own formulas. I'm actually giving serious thought to enrolling in a professional bread course and switching careers (Starting over at close to 60? Eeep.)

I'd love to share pix and recipes.

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Sparkles, thanks so much! I really love making paska because of the opportunity to be artsy - I love a rustic loaf as much as anyone, but it's really fun to be able to decorate bread. I didn't learn from anyone in real life, though I did grow up with this bread at Easter. I learned from the internet, and thus, my recipe is also from the internet. I first started baking it when I was a super homesick student overseas in 2008 (not so long ago, I guess!)

I remember your bagel post on the recipe thread, so I know you're pretty hardcore about bread. Your French culinary institute vacation sounds fantastic! I wish you luck if you decide to pursue a career in bread...aside from the super early hours, I think it would be such a rewarding and fun job :). Please, do post your bread photos! And recipes! I'd love to see 'em!

Here's the recipe I use: it takes quite a long time and requires a LOT of eggs. On the plus side it keeps well at room temperature and also freezes well, so you can always keep some for toasting when you feel like it...

original source here: http://www.ukrainianclassickitchen.ca/i ... pic=2358.0 (not broken because I don't think they'll mind the hits from FJ).

UKRAINIAN EASTER PASKA (my comments in italics)

This recipe makes a delicious bread!

Makes two 9-inch round loaves

2 envelopes (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 cup warm water

12 cups sifted all-purpose flour (I used less)

2 cups milk, warm (100° to 110° F.)

3 large eggs, room temperature

8 large yolks, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon (I doubled this to 2; more citrusy but runs the risk of becoming a little bitter).

Zest of 1 orange (also doubled this)

3 tablespoons rum or brandy

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, MELTED, plus more for pans (1 stick or about 120g butter)

1/2 cup vegetable or sunflower oil (I use Grapeseed)

3 beaten egg whites for coating the undecorated bread

3 extra yolks for coating the decorated bread

1. In a medium bowl combine yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/4 warm water (100° to 110°). Mix until smooth. Set bowl aside until mixture is bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add 4 cups flour and milk to yeast mixture. With a wooden spoon, mix until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until double in size, about 30 minutes.

3. In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat 3 eggs, 8 egg yolks, and sugar until light and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Add the mixture from steps 1 and 2. Add salt, vanilla extract, lemon zest, orange zest, rum or brandy, melted butter, and vegetable oil. Whisk on medium speed until combined. (I mixed by hand, first with a manual mixer, then with a spoon. You could always try the autolyse method to save energy, but I've always just mixed it all manually).

4. Remove whisk attachment from machine, and fit with the dough hook attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add enough of the remaining 8 cups flour until dough comes away from side of bowl. Transfer dough to a clean work surface. Knead dough, adding any remaining flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes. (I knead till silky smooth, still oily and a little damp to the touch). Transfer dough to a large bowl, and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot away from drafts, and let it rise until double in size, 1 to 2 hours.

5. Butter two 9-inch saucepans. Cut a piece of parchment paper about 2 inches longer than the circumference of the saucepan. Fold this in half lengthwise to make a double thickness. Place inside the saucepan, patting it to adhere to the butter. The collar should extend 3 to 4 inches above the rim of the saucepan. Seal the 2-inch flap with more butter. (I have always found these instructions in the recipe really confusing. Basically, you can bake your bread in a springform pan or a cast iron saucepan. Try to line the inside with parchment, adhering it with butter. Cut out a circle for the bottom and long strips to put along the sides. This is easy for a springform, and a PITA for the cast iron because it has sloped sides. I used bulldog clips to hold the parchment to the cast iron while I was forming the bread, then removed them for cooking. I used both a cast iron pan and springform last time 'cause it's what I had, and the breads seemed to cook almost identically, except the cast iron made the edges a little more crispy. Personally I think the springform works better even if it is less traditional).

6. When dough has doubled in bulk, punch down, and set aside one-third of dough in a medium bowl covered with plastic wrap for decorations. Divide remaining two-thirds dough evenly between saucepans. Place bowl and saucepans of dough in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes. (I start on the decorations almost immediately 'cause mine take so long. You can work off the loaf, then transfer onto the loaf by sliding the decorations off a cutting board onto the loaf surface).

7. Place rack in lower two-thirds of oven, and heat to 350°. After 30 minutes, on a clean work surface, shape reserved dough into desired motifs—solar, crosses, rosettes, birds, braids, scrolls, etc. Keep any dough that is not being used covered with plastic to prevent it from drying out. Brush surface of risen dough in saucepans with 3 lightly beaten egg whites. Attach decorative dough ornaments, using a toothpick if necessary to secure motifs to loaves. (use toothpicks a lot to keep stuff from migrating all over the loaf. Pull them out only when the bread has cooled overnight or for at least 8 hours and you won't tear the surface of the bread. Twist as you pull them out). Keep in a warm place to rise until it reaches almost the top of pans, 20 to 30 minutes.

8. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 3 egg yolks and 1 tablespoon water. Brush egg mixture on surface of loaves. Bake for 10 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 325°F, and bake for an additional 50 minutes. Cool paska in pans for 30 minutes. When paska has cooled but is still warm, gently remove from pans, and transfer to a rack to cool.

Note: If you have an instant read thermometer, you can tell more precisely when your loaf is done. Insert the thermometer into the center of the loaf; the bread is done if the internal temperature is 200°F. Some breads are done at slightly different temperatures, but the range for most loaves falls within 5 or 10 degrees of 200°F., so it is a good figure to keep in mind. ETA: When tapped on the bottom, a cooked paska should sound hollow. Of course, it has to cool a bit for you to test this, so it's kind of a useless test!

WTYLCF's notes:

Because the bread needs to be fairly firm to hold the shape of the decorations, it suffers from a bit of a dryness problem. Mine have always been a little dry, a problem best solved by toasting it and slathering it with butter. At least it's full of eggs, butter and oil, so the dryness is never that distasteful, but I welcome your thoughts about how to help the dryness without sacrificing too much ornament potential.

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  • 4 weeks later...

THAT is some gorgeous bread. Good God, I could never do that. I can make some killer banana bread, though.

:P

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Those paskas are gorgeous. I never venture beyond the no knead recipe from Jim Lahey's My Bread book, and I feel like a bread wimp!

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  • 1 month later...

I got hooked last year when a friend of mine showed me that bread-baking is very easy. I´m baking all our bread and I love it. The side-effect: We cannot eat other bread from a bakery, it tastes lame. At the moment I like bread with a lot of herbs and the "Hildegard von Bingen"-Bread (with spelt wheat)

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I'm late to this thread but your paskas are gorgeous! :D We have probably the same type of Easter bread, ours is called tsoureki. I'm a horrible baker so I have never attempted them, but even if I could get it right, there is no way mine could look that beautiful.

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Of course, I forgot something: It look terrific!!

I tried one bread with a similar pattern, but it looked like dog poo in the end (sorry).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks so much, all! Please, post photos and recipes of anything you're particularly proud of - and maybe we can crowd source a diagnosis of what went wrong for those unfortunate looking loaves, if you are so inclined.

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What gorgeous breads! Seriously, after I read your post I googled paska to check out some recipes and the photos of yours were the most beautiful. Real works of art and ALMOSt too good to eat. Would you be willing to share your recipe?

I'm a major bread hobbyist. I got interested in it a couple of years ago, thanks to Artisan Bread in 5, and quickly got hooked. I bake all of our bread now, including sourdoughs (my original starter got kilt ded during Sandy), bagels, sandwich breads, rolls, pretzels, flatbreads, you name it. Last year, I spent my vacation in a week-long course at the French Culinary Institute and had the best time. Gave me a lot of confidence to start creating my own formulas. I'm actually giving serious thought to enrolling in a professional bread course and switching careers (Starting over at close to 60? Eeep.)

I'd love to share pix and recipes.

That book was a gateway drug for me. I got it for 90% of at a store closing sale and fell in love with it. Next it was breads that required kneading then sourdough...

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