Easter Bread recipe is just what you need this upcoming Easter. It is made of very flavorful, moist, buttery, lightly sweetened brioche, that’s studded with beautiful morsels of white chocolate and rum-soaked dried berries. You can eat it as is with coffee or tea for breakfast, or use it for the best tasting French toast.
A mix between Italian Panettone and French Brioche, this Paska is a traditional Russian Easter Bread. I hope you give it a try and fall in love with this delicious Easter tradition just like our family has!
What is Paska?
Paska is what many Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans call their Easter Bread. In Russia, they call it Kulich. Typical Paska Easter Bread is made with eggs, flour, sugar and lots of butter and is similar to Italian Panettone. When this dessert bread is made properly it will be light and fluffy, but still somewhat moist. There are many recipes for Paska, but one requirement that they all have is for the bread to be tall. To achieve the height, Ukrainians use tall lined coffee cans or other smaller sized cans for baking tall Paskas. Then, the bread is topped with thick white powdered sugar glaze and sprinkled with sprinkles.
The perfect Easter Bread
Not many people have the time to test the recipe dozens of times, just to make sure it’s perfect, but I have! I’m super excited for you to try a truly amazing Paska recipe since it is indeed perfect. This Easter Bread is made with lots of butter, which keeps the bread from going hard and stale for more than a week!
Soaking the dried fruits for several days before using them in the Easter Bread allows them to plump up and fill with rum or water. Then, once they’re baked in the bread they continue to give off moisture into the bread, preventing the bread itself from drying out.
This Easter Bread uses a basic brioche bread recipe which I posted about HERE. Go on and read all the tips and tricks on how to get the best results when working with enriched yeast dough.
Tips for Success: Make sure your yeast is active before starting. Starting with yeast that is old or inactive will not produce the needed rise for light and fluffy Paska. If you can, use the Platinum yeast. It’s very forgiving and gives the best rise in baked goods.
Soak your dried fruits well in advance. The fruits that I soaked a week in advance were a lot better hydrated and softer in the bread than the ones I soaked only 1 hour before starting or the ones that were not soaked at all.
Use European butter if possible. European butter has higher butterfat content, so it enhances the bread with better butter flavor. If not available, don’t fret and use the butter you typically buy.
Bake in tall paper molds for superior results. This Easter bread uses a very high hydration dough. This means that when it comes out of the oven it is very, very tender and soft. When you bake it in a metal pan, you need to unmold the bread immediately to prevent sogginess. Doing this can cause the bread to lean to the side, or collapse from the weight of the tallness (is that a word?) of the bread. When you bake the Easter Bread in a paper mold, it allows the bread to cool down in the mold keeping the structural integrity of the bread, without getting soggy. This is more important if you want to bake a tall Paska, than if you bake the minis.
Ingredients for the Easter Bread:
This recipe uses typical Brioche Bread ingredients, such as eggs, butter, flour, sugar, and yeast. If using add-ins, choose your favorite dried fruits and decide if you want to use just one kind of several.
Traditionally Paska is made with raisins, but I add white chocolate chips for extra sweetness and flavor, as well as dried cranberries, dried blueberries, and orange zest.
How to make Easter Bread:
Start by pre-soaking the dried fruits. You can do this even up to a couple of weeks, or months in advance. Then, drain and paper towel dry. Start by making the brioche dough. Add all wet ingredients including sugar, top with flour and yeast. Knead until smooth and elastic, then add butter and salt and knead those in too.
Lastly, add the dried fruits and knead them in. For best results, cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. then, The dough will proof/rise slightly but not too much. Remove from the fridge, shape the dough and place it into molds. If using cans for molds, line them with parchment paper. Molds should be filled halfway with dough. Once doubled in size, brush the tops with egg yolks.
Molds to use: Choose one option for 1 portion of the dough
One 7.5 inch mold
Two 5 inch round molds, or three 30 oz cans with both bottom and top removed, then lined with parchment paper.
For easier removal of the Easter Bread from the paper/carton molds, you can spray the inside with the non-stick spray.
Once baked, allow to cool completely. If you baked in the cans, remove from the can immediately and allow cooling on a rack. While the bread is cooling, make the powdered sugar glaze / Royal Icing glaze. Then, dip the top of each Paka into the whipped powdered sugar and sprinkle with sprinkles right away. If you wish to have drizzles, fill a pastry bag and draw the drizzles out by going up and down where you want the drizzles to be.
You can store the Easter Bread under a cake dome or in a closed container to prevent drying out. You can also freeze it, wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap for up to a month. If freezing, do not top with glaze until after defrosted.
Happy 2020 OrthodoxE aster with D&F Magazine