Paska – Ukrainian Easter Bread

As I mentioned in my “How to make Pysanky” blog post, my absolute favorite part of Easter – growing up – was Ukrainian Easter bread, called Paska. My grandmother’s neighbor would bake it every year and share it with us. After the egg hunt was over, I knew we’d be going to my grandmothers and this delicious, citrussy bread would be waiting for us. SO GOOD. It’s sweet, and almost like a cross between a cake and a bread, and she used to bake it in coffee cans. It’s traditionally served at Ukrainian Easter celebrations, and I think of it as a breakfast bread.

The memories of that bread were so vivid, when that Pysanky post brought them up, that I decided to get the recipe from my grandmother. It’s always interesting when you’re trying to get a recipe through a game of telephone – especially when the first two passes are through old ladies 🙂 As usual with my family, the recipe came as more of a formula – no instructions… and I adapted it a little (increased the flour, increased the zest, changed lard to butter, ditched the coffee can in favor of decorated style), figured out what the directions would be, and made it last night.

I had originally planned to make this as a blog entry only, pass the finished product off to my husband to share at work, and behave myself. Gluten allergy be damned, I dug into that sucker AS I was taking it out of the oven! Whatever fallout should happen as a result, it’ll be worth it!

I prefer this bread served warm, either fresh out of the oven or microwaved. It’s a very tender, moist bread, so be sure to keep it from drying out. Also, it makes a TON of bread, so be prepared to make some friends VERY happy. There seem to be some wildly different ideas of what Paska entails – many don’t have citrus, some have a frosting – but this is what I was raised on, and it won’t disappoint!

I’m thinking that this will make some AMAZING French toast this weekend. Oh yeah. With a little vanilla, orange zest, and a splash of OJ in the custard… MMMmmm…

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Chocolate Zombie Easter Bunnies!

Last week, I was perusing my favorite online shop (Think Geek, of course!), when I happened upon a new offering of theirs: Chocolate Zombie Bunnies.

Chocolate. Zombie. Bunnies!

Seriously. click here to check them out.

They were out of stock, and I was still enjoying the memories of the fun evening I’d spend with my husband recently, creating easy Pysanky Easter eggs, and had an idea – we were going to make our own Chocolate Zombie Easter Bunnies, at home!

Seriously, this cost us under $20 for candy melts, molds, and everything. It’s something I enjoyed doing as a kid, and even made a great date night thing. Have fun with it!

Here’s how we did it:

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Easy Pysanky How-To (AKA Epic Easter Eggs!)

Though I’m actually Irish Canadian, my best childhood memories of Easter are decidedly Ukrainian flavored.

Manitoba is known for a huge population of Ukrainians. Huge! Excellent homemade perogies could be found anywhere… but I digress. My grandmother’s neighbor was Ukrainian, Easter meant that she’d bake up these wonderful citrussy breads – Paska – and share with us. Oh, they were amazing. My favorite part of Easter, I still remember those delicious breads.

Another favorite part of Easter back then was seeing the Ukrainian Easter eggs, which would show up in advertising, or on display, or whatever. I’d marvel at the intricate designs, the bright colors. Tons of beauty and talent, right there.

One year – I’m sure I was probably in grade 4 or 5 – my class went to the Ukrainian Cultural Center to learn how to make the eggs. We were given little tools to draw wax designs on our eggs – a little stick with a cone shaped well. We’d scoop some wax into the little well, use a candle to melt it, and draw our initial outlines on. We’d dye it, dry it, draw more wax on… lather, rinse, release. When we were done, we’d carefully hold our eggs up near the candle flame, to melt all of the wax we’d drawn on, to reveal all of the colors that we’d protected from subsequent dye baths.

Although none of our eggs looked anything like the gorgeous egg art displayed in the Center, it was a lot of fun. I’ve always loved learning new skills, and I’ve always loved learning about other cultures.

The other day, I was thinking about how much fun I’d had back then, and decided that I would try it again, with my husband. As we’re both sort of anti social, doing at at home was the most attractive option. As I didn’t own any Pysanky tools, I needed to either buy some, or some up with an alternate way to get the wax on the eggs. I briefly considered painting melted wax on with art brushes… but then thought of another way – CRAYONS!

So, last night we bought some crayons and eggs, and went to it. We had a BALL! It was so much fun, and definitely an interesting, fun alternative to our usual Tuesday night “date night”. Though our results were far from professional, they were definitely more interesting than your average “egg dyeing kit” results… and really easy! This is a fun craft for kids AND adults or all skill levels. Let me show you how we did it:

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