Happy Belated Easter! We were very lucky to enjoy beautiful weather yesterday. 🙂
I like to bake new Easter breads to serve for our holiday breakfast. This year, I looked through my Ukrainian cookbook collection for a paska (Ukrainian Easter bread) recipe.
My mother-in-law has given me several Ukrainian cookbooks and there were many variations of paska to choose from- all quite different from one another depending upon the region of their origin. Traditionally, a paska or babka is an essential part of an Easter breakfast. Many are beautifully decorated with a cross, braid, or birds. This version is more of a cake, with batter, and did not have dough that could be used to decorate the top.
The recipe was adapted from Festive Ukrainian Cooking by Marta Pisetska Farley. According to the book, this paska recipe, from the northwest province of Podil’ia, is at least a hundred years old! It is a golden paska, reminiscent of the sun, and is similar to a sponge cake. It was very rich and indulgent.
Yield: One 9 or 10-inch cake
- 1 cup dry white bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 1 orange
- 10 large or extra-large eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 to 4 T powdered sugar
- Line the bottom and sides or a 9, 10 or 12-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (Because I used a 9-inch pan (smaller than the original recipe suggests), I cut 7-inch tall pieces of parchment paper to line the sides of the pan, buttered on the portion lining the walls of the pan and sprayed with cooking spray above the walls of the pan.)
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F, preferably on convection.
- Sift the bread crumbs until fine, then sift again with the flour baking powder, and spices.
- Add the grated lemon and orange zest.
- Separate the eggs.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg yolks with the granulated sugar until thick and pale, about 3 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and beat again.
- Fold the bread crumb mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the batter until no white streaks can be seen.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake until set or a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. (I was afraid that the cake would fall if I checked it too early- and baked it for 1 hour.)
- When fully baked, keep the cake in the oven with the door ajar, and allow to cool slowly. (The cake may fall slightly. Mine did!)
- When cool, remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Serve.
Posted in Baking, Bread, Cake, Coffee Cake, Good Sweets, Good Eats (Desserts), Holiday, Recipes, The Piggy Pancake (Breakfast)
Tags: bread, bread crumbs, breakfast, cake, cinnamon, cloves, coffee cake, dessert, Easter, Eastern European, golden, lemon zest, orange zest, paska, Podil'ia, Podolia, sponge, Ukrainian, vanilla
My mother-in-law makes a traditional Ukrainian babka for Easter every year. I have always felt that I would like to do the same- but I felt intimidated. This year, I finally pulled out my Ukrainian cookbooks to search for the perfect recipe… and became even more intimidated!! First, I looked through recipes for Traditional Easter Paska, beautiful round loaves topped with elaborate dough ornamentation; they seemed more of a end-point than a starting point for my first attempt to make a special Easter bread.
When I saw this recipe for “Country” Babka, I knew it was more fitting. Rich, simple, and still festive. I was happy that it included raisins in the dough. We ate it lightly toasted with butter and/or jam with our colorful hard-boiled eggs for breakfast on Easter morning. This recipe was adapted from Traditional Ukrainian Cookery by Savella Stechishin. Happy (Belated!) Easter!!
For the Sponge:
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tsp yeast
- 1/2 cup scalded whole milk, lukewarm
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
For the Dough:
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 T lemon zest
- 2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Make the sponge: Dissolve the sugar in the lukewarm water, sprinkle the yeast over it, and let it stand until softened. Combine with the lukewarm milk and 1/2 cup flour. Beat well, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until light and bubbly. (I placed mine in a proofing drawer for about 15 minutes.)
- Make the dough while the sponge is rising: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs with the salt.
- Add the sugar gradually and continue beating until light.
- Beat in the butter and lemon rind.
- Combine the dough mixture with the sponge.
- Stir in the flour and knead in the bowl (with the dough attachment) for about 10 minutes. The dough should be thick. Add more flour if needed to make it less sticky.
- After the 10 minutes, knead in the raisins until evenly incorporated.
- Cover with a clean towel, and let rise in a warm place (I used a proofing oven) until double in bulk. (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours)
- Punch down, knead a few times, and let it rise again until double in bulk. (In a proofing drawer- about 1 to 1 1/2 hours)
- Generously butter a tall, round baking pan with soft butter (or spray with cooking spray). (I used an angel food cake pan.) Place the dough in the pan (It should fill 1/3 of the pan.)
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled or tripled in bulk (or until the dough reaches the brim of the pan- not the case in my angel food pan). (about 1 1/2 hours in a proofing oven)
- Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, then cover with foil to prevent over-browning. (I did 15 min but would do 10 next time…)
- Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes.
- Lower the oven temperature again to 275 degrees and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer. (I omitted this step, as my loaf baked more rapidly in the angel food cake pan.)
- Let the dough stand in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes; remove to cool.
Note: Traditionally, Babka is sliced in rounds across the loaf. The sliced bottom crust serves as a protective cover, and it is put back to prevent the loaf from drying. (We deviated from this tradition, as I baked the loaf in an angel food pan, and, therefore cut more traditional slices.)
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Posted in Baking, Bread, Holiday, Recipes, The Piggy Pancake (Breakfast)
Tags: babka, bread, breakfast, brioche, challah, Easter, paska, Ukrainian