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Paska is a sweet and soft Eastern European Easter Bread that is studded with raisins and dried cranberries.
This year for Easter I wanted to make a loaf of Paska. When I was a kid we would go to my great Aunt Mary’s house where she always had a fresh loaf of Paska bread so it was something that we always enjoyed.
Paska is an Eastern European sweet egg bread that is often made around Easter. My father’s side of the family is Slovakian and Paska was always a tradition for them.
We would often stop off at Aunt Mary’s house and then we would go to my great Aunt Kaye’s house. She always had homemade pierogi’s for us. They were always one of my favorite foods and I loved when we got some to take home with us.
Both of my great aunt’s have since passed away but in the last 10 years my father has taken on the tradition of making both Paska and pierogi’s for the holidays. Everyone looks forward to both of these on the holidays and my dad always makes extra for me to take home.
- warm water (around 110 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimum temperature)
- warm milk (same temperature as the water and using whole milk is best)
- dry active yeast (make sure your yeast is not expired)
- butter (I like using salted but feel free to use unsalted)
- salt (I just use table salt in this recipe)
- granulated sugar
- golden raisins (while you can use regular raisins my family prefers golden raisins)
- craisins (I like the sweet and tart flavor of the craisins in this bread but if you don’t like them you can substitute regular raisins)
How do you make Paska?
Making Paska is easy but time consuming. You start by allowing the yeast to bloom in the warm milk and water. After it has bloomed you will add in all of the ingredients except the fruit and knead the dough until becomes smooth.
Once the dough is smooth you will place it into a bowl and allow it to rise for one and a half hours. This dough takes a while to rise because it’s heavy due to the butter and eggs so don’t cut the rise time short.
After the first rise you will knead the fruit into the dough and divide it into two pieces. Each piece is placed in a loaf pan and allowed to rise for another one and a half hours.
Finally it’s time to bake. The loaves bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until they are golden brown.
When looking for a recipe to make Paska I found that it was difficult to find a recipe that didn’t make a lot of loaves. Apparently people making this Paska bread like to make enough loaves for their family and friends as well.
I did find a recipe that was similar to my Aunt Mary’s recipe which in turn is similar to my dad’s recipe. It makes two loaves of bread but luckily this Easter bread can be frozen to enjoy later.
This recipe was actually made for a bread machine but I adapted it to my own needs. My dad actually does use a bread machine when he is making his bread but I don’t have one and I don’t mind kneading dough by hand. It’s pretty therapeutic.
Can I make one large loaf of Paska?
Yes you can. Using this same recipe you will just stop when it is time to divide the dough in half. Instead of putting it in a loaf pan spray a 9 inch cake pan with cooking spray and place the dough in there for it’s last rise. Increase the temperature to 375 degrees and bake it for 45 minutes or so.
Can I use different mix ins?
While using raisins in traditional you can certainly mix in other ingredients. Try using golden and regular raisins. Mix in a half cup of chocolate chips in place of the fruit. Using a half cup of candied fruit is a great way to jazz up this bread as well.
Can I freeze Paska bread?
You can freeze the paska. Since it makes two loaves it’s nice to enjoy one when you make it and then you can freeze the second loaf. Let the bread cool completely. I’m talking 2-3 hours to make sure the center has cooled as well. Then wrap the bread in plastic wrap and then wrap it in foil. Place in a freezer bag.
The Paska can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy it let the bread defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
The dough gets kneading until it is fairly smooth and then it goes into a bowl to do a first rising. Once the dough has risen you’ll need to knead in the raisins and craisins. Be patient with this and don’t dump them all in at once otherwise you’ll have a hard time getting them into the dough.
Next the dough gets divided and placed into two loaf pans. Then it needs to rise again. I found that my dough rose more during the second rising that the first rising.
Finally it’s time to bake the bread! I don’t know about you but one of my favorite scents in the world is bread baking in the oven. It’s just such a warm and comforting scent.
More Bread Recipes:
- Rum Raisin Bread
- Individual Braided Easter Bread
- Spiced Persimmon Bread with Cranberries and Pecans
- Rustic Sourdough Bread
- English Muffin Bread
- Vegan Hot Pretzel Challah Bread
During the last 10 minutes of baking I like to melt a tablespoon of butter and brush some on top of each loaf and then sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar on top. This helps the bread to get a golden brown top and it adds just a touch of flavor.
Once the bread is out and has cooled it’s time to slice it. I love how this bread looks. The bread is studded with the golden raisins and the red craisins and just looks delicious.
The bread has a yellow tint from the eggs. It’s lightly sweetened and has a beautiful crumb. It not only looks good but it tastes amazing. We like to toast it in the morning and put a bit of butter on it to enjoy for breakfast.
Whenever we make Paska Bread for Easter we usually just slice it and put it on a platter so everyone can grab a slice. It really doesn’t need anything on it but if you want to put something on it butter or jam are both good options.
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- ½ c. warm water (110 degrees)
- ½ c. warm whole milk (110 degrees)
- 1 package dry active yeast
- ½ c. butter, melted and cooled
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ c. sugar
- 4 ½ c. flour
- ⅓ c. golden raisins
- ⅓ c. craisins
- In a large bowl combine the warm water, warm milk, and yeast. Give it a gentle stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the butter. Add the eggs one at a time stirring well after each addition.
- In a medium bowl combine the salt, sugar, and flour. Add the flour one cup at a time until it forms a soft dough.
- Turn the dough onto a floured counter and knead for 10 minutes, adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise 1 ½ hours.
- Turn the dough out onto the counter and gently knead the raisins and
craisins into it. Divide the dough into two parts.
- Place each loaf into a loaf pan sprayed with baking spray.
- Cover and let rise for 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the loaves for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Recipe adapted from Spark Recipes