Gluten Free Paska! (Citrussy Ukrainian Easter Bread)

Recently, I was asked to make 3 huge batches of my Paska for a screen test for a local TV show. I was so confused at what I was thinking – it was such a great opportunity, and I love to turn people on to Paska – it’s *glorious* stuff – but I had already planned to not have to make Paska this year. It’s too great a temptation for me – last year, I went off gluten free when I made it and lived to sort of regret it. (The pain was awful, but the bread was kinda worth it – it’s THAT good!).

I really didn’t want to go flying off the gluten free wagon, especially with my health doing so well lately. I’m strong, but some temptations are too great, even for me. I know myself well, so I decided to create a gluten free version.

Sure, I’d never made a gluten free bread before this point (and this was before my recent Gluten Free Deep Dish Pizza epiphany.)… but you know, I love a challenge.

Oh lord. This was amazing. It didn’t have quite the same texture as the real deal, but the flavor was there. I slathered butter on a slice fresh out of the oven, and it was heavenly. So good, in fact, that I immediately messaged local friend Alissa, of “The Accidental Celiac, to inform her that I am a GENIUS (and so humble!), and that if she was around, I had to bring her something. There may have been some capitalized expletives and exclamation point abuse involved also.

I wrapped some still-hot goodness up, stepped away from preparing supper, and went the few short blocks to deliver it. Yep, fresh out of the oven Paska is THAT urgent… especially because having access to safe, GOOD bread when gluten free can make you sort of… feral.

Says Alissa:

“GF Paska, I dub thee “Magic Bread.” My daughter already has had 2 servings..and a part of the braid on top. It was so yummy…and the scent was heavenly. Nice and lemony…mmmmm THANKS for the surprise delivery!!!”

Anyway, the screen test ended up cancelled, but at least I got THIS out of it all. This morning I was reminded that I had not posted this recipe, though all of this went down just over a week ago!

Enjoy!

Gluten Free Paska Bread
(Adapted from my Full Gluten Paska Recipe)

1/4cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2.5 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, beaten
Juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup scalded milk, cooled
3 cups gluten free all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
2 cups white rice flour
1 cup potato starch

1 egg yolks
2 tsp water

Stir sugar into warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top of sugar water, gently incorporate. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes, until bubbly.

In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, continue to cream until well incorporated and fluffy once more.

Add juices, zest, and salt to the mixture, mix until combined. Add scalded milk, continue to mix until well incorporated and smooth. Add 2 cups of gluten free all purpose flour, combine well. Add yeast mixture, mix until well incorporated.

If you have a dough hook attachment for your mixer, affix it now.

Slowly add remaining flours and starch until a good, coherent bread dough comes together. It should be sticky to the touch.

Put dough into a lightly greased bowl or pot, cover top with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 1 1/2-2 hours.

Now here’s the fun part. Reserve about 1/3 of the dough for decorations, and divide remaining dough out among the pans you’ll be using (grease them first!). For reference, we used an 8″ round pyrex pot, and an 8″ square cake pan to bake one batch of this. Mine turned out fairly thin, next time I’ll probably use the whole amount in a 9″ round pan.

For the main body of your bread , you’ll want the dough to fill at least 1/2 of each baking pan. They’ll rise a bit more, but not like crazy. Cover loosely pans and reserved 1/3 dough loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise another 1 hour.

Once your rise time is up, use the reserved dough to make designs on the top of each loaf. Braids, twists, curls, crosses and rosettes are popular/traditional, but have fun with it. (Google can be a great source of design inspiration.) Toothpicks can be used to help secure designs in place until after baking. Cover loosely with plastic, allow to rise one last time, 30 minutes.

While your dough is rising, whisk together the remaining egg yolks and water to create an egg wash. This glaze will give your finished Paska a shiny, dark brown finish. Beautiful!

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Once final rise is finished, brush entire top of each loaf with egg wash. Bake loaves for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven door, lower the heat to 325°F and continue to bake for another 20-35 minutes, depending on how thick your bread is. (Mine took 25 minutes.

Cool Paska for 10-15 minutes (if you can handle the wait), then gently remove from pans and transfer to a wire rack or wooden cutting board to continue cooling. Cut into one of your warm loaves, slather with butter, and … don’t plan on going anywhere for awhile. It’s easy to plow through a ton of this, and it will give you a bread coma. SO WORTH IT. Like many GF breads, this is best served warm… but that’s true with the full gluten version as well.

In closing, my husband/photographer has something to share:

“In the photography business, anything between your light and your subject is a “lighting modifier”. Turbo is a lighting modifier. Rather helpful, isn’t she?”

5 thoughts on “Gluten Free Paska! (Citrussy Ukrainian Easter Bread)

  1. I just came across your site and had to say hello as there seemed too many similarities to ignore! I’m a gluten free blogger originally from Winnipeg (currently in Wisconsin to visit my own hubby to be), and have been posting the past 2 weeks on my blog about making gf versions of German Easter dishes, reminiscent of my childhood in the ‘Peg 🙂 I will definitely have to try and make your gf Paska!

  2. Thanks you for developing this. It helps so much in keeping my Polish/Lemko traditions alive when I have to members of my family with Celiac disease.

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