Paska is a traditional Ukrainian sweet bread usually served around Easter. It is usually decorated with birds and braids. The birds symbolized the return of spring. It is made especially for blessing baskets of food at the church at Easter. This recipe is a family recipe that has been passed on in Natalie Cloutier's family. Recipe and photos courtesy of Natalie Cloutier.
1 ½ cups of sugar
3 cups milk
2 packages standard bread yeast
10 cups of white flour
½ cup of butter
6 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 small whole oranges blended (this way you get the pulp and the juice)
3 tsp vanilla
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tsp salt
½ cup your favorite oil
Optional: 1 cup of raisins
Warm milk on stove and dissolve sugar in it. Place mixture in bowl, let cool.
Add yeast to bowl mixture with 5 cups of flour.
Let it rise until it is bubbly.
While waiting for it to rise: in a separate bowl combine, butter, eggs/yolks, orange juice, vanilla, nutmeg, salt. Add the remaining 5 cups of flour. Also add the raisins, if desired. (Believe me, their delicious!)
Combine the 2 bowls ingredients and knead.
Add the ½ cup oil and continue kneading.
Place in warm area in containers with enough room for dough to double. Allow to rise for an hour or more.
Separate into different containers, fill about 1/2 full . We like to use extra tall pie tins, coffee tins, whatever you have on hand, works!
Save some dough for decorating the top of your paska. It is traditional to braid some dough on top (just like braiding hair). But, get creative, do something meaningful to you and your family! Just remember the dough is going to expand!
Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes and then 300 degrees F for 40 minutes or until the top of the bread is browned.
Enjoy with family and friends!