Easter is a time filled with lots of food and traditions. My dad is 100% Ukrainian and my mother is 100% Pennsylvania Dutch. My father was the youngest of ten, one girl among all those boys. My father is now 82 and the only one left. Bubba and Ditto (my fathers parents) were insistent that their children be American. Even though they spoke Ukrainian around the farm-house, they were never taught how to read or write the language. ( but as kids our uncles taught us the not so nice words..lol) My mom keeps the Ukrainian Holiday traditions alive, though some things may have gotten lost in translation, we hold on tight to the ones we know.
Easter Sunday consist of a meal of cold blessed food. Paska ( Easter Bread) is a bread made with eggs and Saffron water. Some Paska’s contain nuts, currants/raisins, but Bubba told my mom you made it with what you had…The bread is made on Good Friday. Along with ingredients you will need a large bowl, a wooden spoon for stirring and lots of love.
I have cut this recipe in half. The one we make for Easter makes four loaves of bread.
Ingredients: Yield is two 1 1/2 pound loaves
- 2pkgs. Active dry yeast or 4 1/2 tsp of dry yeast
- 1/4 cup of luke warm water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup of butter
- 1 cup of scolded hot milk
- 5 cups of Bread Flour ( you can use AP flour but I prefer the bread flour)
- 2 eggs + one yolk beaten ( make sure your eggs are room temperature)
- 1/2 cup of hot water
- 1 gram or 0.036oz of Saffron Threads
- one egg for egg wash
Method: First pour the 1/2 cup of hot water over the saffron threads and set aside to steep. Next bloom yeast in 1/4 cup of luke warm water for 5 minutes then stir to blend. Measure sugar, salt and butter into large mixing bowl. Add hot milk, stir until butter is melted and the sugar and salt have dissolved. Cool to luke warm. Stir in 2 cups of flour beat till smooth, now add the yeast, beaten eggs and Saffron water. (note: pour the water through a strainer to remove the saffron threads) Work in the remaining 3 cups of flour, once the dough forms a ball turn it out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 2 minutes. The dough should be smooth and spring back at the touch. (note: you may use more or less flour pay attention to the wetness and stickiness of the dough) Shape dough into a ball, place into a bowl that has been greased with shortening or butter. Cover and place in a warm area and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hrs) punch the dough down cover and let it rise again (about 30 minutes) Then shape the loaves and place in greased bread pans, brush with egg wash and let them sit for about 20-25 minutes before placing in a preheated oven of 350 f or 180 c. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. The bread should be nice and golden brown and when lightly tapped it should have a hollow sound. Remove from oven and rub with butter. After about 10 to 15 minutes turn the bread out and place on cooling rack. Enjoy! We wait for this bread all year-long. It is great toasted.
Tips for the rising of the bread: if you don’t have a warm place for the bread to rise, you can do two things, First you could preheat your oven to it lowest setting possible. Once it reaches temp turn it off, and place the covered bowl in the oven with the door slightly ajar. Second: if you have a heating pad turn it on to its lowest setting place a thin towel on top of the heating pad, then place the covered bowl on top and let the dough rise.