Paska (Eastern European Easter Bread)
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp active dry yeast 2 packets; 14 g
- 3/4 cup warm water 187 mL
- 1 tsp sugar I used a hardened lump of brown sugar lol
- 2 oranges rinsed
- 1 cup milk 240 mL
- 1/2 cup butter 113 g
- 3/4 cup sugar 150 g
- 2 eggs large
- t tsp fine salt 6 g
- 7–8 cups all purpose flour 840–960 g
- 1 cup raisins 150 g; optional
- Add the yeast, water, and 1 tsp sugar to a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer if you're using one).
- Chop the oranges in half, then into quarters. Cut off the stem parts at the two ends but don't bother peeling them.
- Add milk, butter, and sugar to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until the butter is mostly melted.
- Add the oranges (peels and all) and the milk mixture to a blender. Briefly blend. Add the eggs and salt, and blend on high speed until everything is is pureed and the consistency is smooth. (I used my Blendtec on the smoothie mode.)
- Add the blended mixture to the bowl with the yeast. Add half of the flour and all of the raisins (optional), and stir to incorporate (or knead with your dough hook if you're using a stand mixer).
- Keep adding flour about a cup at a time until the dough comes together into a ball—it should be pretty tacky but not crazy sticky. Knead for 8–10 minutes in a mixer, and about five minutes longer if kneading by hand.
- Grease the bowl and leave the dough inside, covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap, to rise for about an hour.
- The dough should now be doubled in size. Put it down on a flat counter and punch it down really really well.
- Cut into pieces. 16 pieces for small breads (ramekin-sized), 8 for medium-sized cans, 4 for loaves. Shape into whatever shapes you want (see the pictures further down in this post for some ideas).
- Grease whatever pans you're using, and put in the dough. Let rise for another hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. For small breads, bake for about 25 minutes. For medium breads, about 30 minutes, and for loaves, about 45 minutes.
- Remove the breads from the oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes inside their pans. Then transfer them to racks until fully cool.
The amount of flour you’ll have to add depends on a lot of factors, such as the weight of your oranges and the humidity of your kitchen, so add flour a little at a time until the dough isn’t super wet. Be careful not to add too much flour because the finished paska bread tastes a lot better when it’s a higher hydration dough.
This paska recipe halves easily if you don’t want to make too much at once. However, it also freezes well, so just throw any extras in a Ziploc bag (make sure it’s room temp) and squeeze all the air out, then keep it in the freezer.
The dough is adapted from this recipe from Mennonite Girls Can Cook.
Paska Nutrition and Cost Calculation
Variations on the Basic Paska Recipe
Although Kevin liked the base recipe, he suggested sprinkling some raisins in. Raisins are indeed a pretty popular mix-in for paska bread, so I’ve added that option into the recipe! You could also add a variety of other chopped dried fruits.
If you don’t have any oranges, you could also substitute a lemon. Just like the orange, you don’t have to peel it or anything—the rind adds extra zest to the bread (hehe).
Easter Baking Project
I first tried out this recipe on Good Friday, since I wanted to do an Easter-themed bake. For an enriched dough, this dough rises quickly (just an hour each for each fermentation). So it’s a pretty fast bake you can do before the Easter weekend.
Another traditional way to eat paska is to pair it with a sweet creamy cottage cheese and egg yolk spread, although I enjoy the fragrant, slightly sweet bread on its own.
Step-by-Step Instructions with Pictures
First, add the yeast, water, and 1 tsp sugar to a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer if you’re using one).