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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