Easter Bread (Paska)

This bread is near and dear to my heart. This is my grandma, Viola Eckert’s, Paska recipe. Paska is an eastern European egg bread and because of my strong Mennonite German heritage my grandma always had it for Easter growing up. This delicious soft and sweet bread covered with icing and sprinkles is heavenly. This recipe makes 7 loaves and is an 8 hour commitment but I promise is so worth it. You can freeze the extra loaves or give them away. I usually eat this bread with butter and jam or more icing 😉

Recipe Review:

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY – MODERATE – DIFFICULT

  • Steps: 8
    • Rating: Moderate
  • Involvement
    • 1.5 hours prep + 6 hours of rising
    • Rating: Difficult
  • Ingredients & availability
    • 10 ingredients
    • All ingredients are normal and you can easily find at your local grocery store
    • Rating: Easy

Equipment Required:

  • Mixing bowls
  • Mixing spoons/cups
  • Hand beater or stand mixer
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tea towel
  • Cake pans and/or baking sheets

Time: 1.5 hours prep + 6 hours rising + 15 – 20 min bake = ~ 8 hours total

Yield: 7 loaves

Calories/Loaf: ~1,417

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 2 tsps. sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups milk, scalded and cooled (1.5 minutes on high in the microwave)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup shortening, melted
  • 10 egg yolks, whisked
  • 2 tbsps. lemon juice
  • 5 egg whites, beaten till stiff
  • 12 – 13 cups flour

Directions:

  1. Mix warm water with 2 tsps. sugar in small bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top. Put in warm place (I turn the oven on briefly to 100F and then turn it off before putting yeast in. Turn on oven light.) and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in very large mixing bowl combine salt, milk, 2 cups sugar, shortening, egg yolks and lemon juice. Mix well. Add 4 cups flour to make a soft batter. Stir yeast mixture (after 10 minutes are up) in its bowl and then add to large mixing bowl. Mix well. Fold in beaten egg whites. Add remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead well with hands.
  3. Place dough in well-greased very large bowl and turn over once so top is greased. Place plastic wrap lightly over top of bowl and then cover with a light cotton T-towel. Place bowl in warm place. Once again, I use my oven with the light on inside. Let rise until doubled in size about 2 hours.
  4. Uncover and punch down dough. Cover again and put back in warm place and let rise another 2 hours.
  5. Uncover and punch down again. Divide and form into loaves, jelly braid, buns, or use to make cinnamon buns. Makes 7 loaves. Grease pans before placing dough inside.
  6. Cover again (no need for plastic wrap this time) and let rise in warm place another 2 hours.
  7. Bake loaves, a few at a time or as many will fit in the oven with space between pans, at 350F for approximately 15 – 20 minutes. Watch at the end as they can over-brown.
  8. Can be frozen at this point. Just prior to serving, frost room temperature loaf with a glaze made from icing sugar and milk. Or use another icing recipe such as cream cheese icing. Sprinkle with decorative sprinkles. Best to slice with an electric knife.

TO MAKE CINNAMON BUNS:

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of paska dough
  • 3 – 4 tbsps. butter + extra for spreading
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup brown or white sugar + extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp cinnamon+ extra for sprinkling
  • Nuts and/or raisins (optional)
  • Icing or cream cheese frosting
  1. Melt 3 – 4 tbsps. butter in the bottom of a 9 x 9 inch pan. Add 1/4 – 1/3 cup brown or white sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and mix.
  2. Roll out one loaf of paska so that it is flat and 12 inches long. Spread with butter, sprinkle with sugar (brown or white) and cinnamon. Can sprinkle with nuts and/or raisins as well if desired.
  3. Roll up from 12 inch side. Mark roll into 12 pieces with knife and then slice. Place slices cut side down in 9 x 9 prepared pan.
  4. Let rise as for bread and bake as directed above. Serve warm with glaze of cream cheese frosting.

TO MAKE JELLY BRAID:

  1. Using one loaf of paska, separate into 3 pieces and roll on counter into long 1 inch wide snakes. Pinch together at one end and place on greased cookie sheet.
  2. Braid strands
  3. Let rise and bake as directed above. When cooled, ice with glaze. Then put jam in crevices of braid.

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