Easter Paska

Happy Belated Easter! We had unseasonably warm weather and bright sunshine on Easter Sunday in New York. 🙂 In the afternoon, we visited a local swan to admire her impressive nest.

I made this buttery and eggy Eastern European Paska to enjoy for breakfast over Easter weekend. My daughter braided the dough for the decorative cross. She did such a great job! 🙂 It was such a light and fluffy loaf- really delicious. We ate it topped with butter and jam. It was also recommended to eat with kielbasa or leftover Easter ham.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour.com. I used a bread machine to knead the dough and omitted the sugar topping. It could have been used as a beautiful centerpiece as well.

Yield: 1 large loaf

For the Bread:

  • 1 cup (8 oz) lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons/2 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups (21.25 oz) all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt

For the Topping:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • coarse sugar, like turbinado, optional (I omitted the sugar)
  1. To make the dough: Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a soft, smooth dough. (I used a bread machine.)
  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s noticeably puffy. (I placed it in a warming drawer on the “proof” setting.)
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; divide it into two pieces, one twice as large as the other. Take the larger piece, roll into a ball, and place it into a well-greased 9″ x 2″ round pan.
  4. Divide the other piece of dough into three equal pieces, and roll each out into a 20″ strand; use the three strands to create one long braid. 
  5. Place the braid around the inside edge of the pan, or use it to form a cross over the top of the larger piece of dough. 
  6. Cover the loaf and let it rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. (I used a proofing oven.)
  7. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection, with a rack in the center.
  8. To make the topping: In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water. Brush the mixture gently over the top of the risen loaf, and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.
  9. Bake the bread for 35 to 45 minutes, or until it’s a rich golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool before cutting.

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Snickerdoodles

I have been craving snickerdoodles!! Initially, every recipe I found required shortening- which I really didn’t want to use. I was worried that substituting butter may cause the cookies to spread too thin when baking. Then I found this all-butter recipe in Food and Wine. Yay! I believe the addition of cream of tartar may have helped keep the volume in these crispy cookies.

Snickerdoodles originated in 19th-century New England. The dough is usually coated in cinnamon, but this cookie dough is rolled in cinnamon-sugar before baking. My daughter and I made these cookies to bring to a friend to accompany Root Beer Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Coleslaw– an all-American meal! 🙂 I had to keep a few extra for my family too, of course.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by John Currence of Hill-Country Cookout.

  • Yield: Makes 32 cookies
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with 1 1/2 cups of the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt and beat at low speed until a smooth dough forms. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight. (or freeze for 30 minutes!)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon. Scoop the dough into tablespoon-size balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar to coat. IMG_6029
  3. Arrange the balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and bake for about 15 (on convection) to 20 minutes, or until golden on the bottom. Leave the cookies on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool.

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