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Paska

Paska is a traditional Easter bread made in Eastern European countries including Poland, Ukraine, and Slovakia.  Christian symbolism is associated with this bread.  My grandmother, mother, and various relatives make this bread each year for Easter.   I have been making it for the last several years. Paska is a sweet bread, and raisins are a good addition if you like raisins.  I do not, and therefore, I do not add them.  Paska is also a hearty, rich bread, but it has this amazing ability to feel light and almost fluffy when toasted.  It is a good complement to kielbasa, or any sandwich.  I prefer mine with butter – lots of butter!   Adam and I love paska!

I remember eating paska at my grandmother’s house when I was a little girl.  My grandmother knew that my family loved it so much, she would usually make it for us when we visited even when it wasn’t Easter.  My grandmother made hers with golden raisins, which I promptly removed with a flick of my butter knife.  My sister and I would take our thick, toasted, butter-slathered paska slices out on to the front porch, and consume them feverishly, licking every trace of butter off of our fingers and then request more.

If you plan on making this paska, please be aware that it will take a better part of your day to make, as it needs to rise twice and bake for 45 minutes.  This recipe makes two paskas.   As you can see from the photo, I use soufflé dishes.  My mother uses two metal dog bowls (she specifically uses for paska making, and no, the dog does not use them).  They are perfect size for the paska!   This recipe is Mary Urim’s Paska.  I do not know who Mary Urim was, nor do I know where my grandmother found this recipe, but I feel I need to give Mary Urim credit – her paska is incredible!

Mary Urim’s Paska
Printable Recipe

9 1/2 – 10 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 package dry yeast
2 cups of milk
3 TBS oil
4 TBS butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten and separated
1 TBS salt

In a bowl, add yeast to 1 cup of lukewarm water and mix.  Let set for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, scald the milk.  Add the sugar, stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, and let cool.

In another bowl, mix 3 eggs, butter, oil, and salt.  Add the yeast mixture, and milk mixture, and whisk to combine.

Add 9 1/2 cups of flour to a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Gradually add the egg/milk/yeast mixture while mixing.  Mix the dough for 10 minutes.  Adding up to 1 to 1 1/2 cups of additional flour.  The dough should pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and not stick.  If it is sticking, gradually add more flour.

Coat a large bowl with oil.  When dough is done mixing, place in bowl and turn to cover all sides of the dough with oil.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise to double it’s size.  Approximately 30 minutes.  You may also place the bowl in a warmed oven to speed up the rising process.  After the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl, punch it down a little, and separate into two pieces and form into a ball.  Work with one dough ball at a time.

To make braids (2 braids for each bread):  From each dough ball, cut a piece off to make the braids.  From that piece of dough, cut into two.  Cut those two pieces of dough into 3.  (Now you should have 6 small pieces of dough).  Roll each piece of dough into a rope, and then braid 3 pieces together.  Repeat with remaining dough to create a second braid.

Place reserved dough ball into a well oiled round baking dish.  Place one of the braids over the dough ball in the pan, tucking the ends under the ball.  Place the second braid over the first in a cross, again tucking the ends under the dough ball.  Repeat process with second dough ball.  Let dough rise again until doubled in size – approximately 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Make egg wash – beat 1 egg and 2 TBS water.  When dough has risen to double in size, brush the tops with the egg wash.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the bread is golden.  Let cool in pan, and then remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Slice and enjoy!

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