Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter - Frohe Ostern

Happy Easter.  Yesterday, I worked on Easter dinner preparations.  I have never made this bread before.  I could have just picked bread up from the local grocery store, but that is not "living the German Russian Culture".  So - after I read pages 97-104 from the book "Mennonite Foods & Folkways from South Russia" Volume1 - Norma Jost Voth, I said the Russian ritual prayer, "Bog na pomotsch" (God help me) and proceeded to make this "Paska" bread.

"Paska" is a rich bread, based on the Hebrew word for Passover.  Folk tradition said the future could be predicted by how the Paska turned out.  Paska was made in huge batches.  Recipes called for 60 eggs, and up to 150 eggs per batch.  The recipe I used is 1/8 of an original recipe which called for 24 eggs.


1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs, separated and beaten
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
5 cups flour

Add yeast and 1 tsp. sugar to 1/3 water - allow to bubble.
Heat half-and-half.  Stirr in butter.  Cool
Separate eggs.  Beat whites until stiff.  Set aside
Beat yolks, add sugar - beat until thick
Stirr into lukewarm milk mixture
Fold in egg whites
Gradualy add flour
Knead dough by hand. Place in greased bowl and cover
Let dough double in bulk
Punch down.  Divide into 2 equal parts for round loaf
Place in greased pan or use coffee cans  (I used coffee cans)
Let rise.  Bake 350 for 30 minutes

Remember: the special ingredient to add to the bread is the Russian prayer asking for God's blessing and help in making the bread.

Icing: 1 Tbsp. butter, juice from 1 lemon, 1 cup powdered sugar

The Russian women would decorated their loaves with colored candies, paper flowers, or candles.  Or they would make stiff dough shaped like a cross, flower, bird, and other motifs and place on the loaf before baking.

If you are interested in learning more about Paska, I recommend you read the book I mentioned above.  My cousin and I recently discovered that our Grandfather John, who was born in Sarepta, was confirmed in Insel, Krim - Crimea - Black Sea.  This is southern Russia.

You may be asking yourself, "Why is she using a Russian recipe?"  Our German ancestors had contact with Russian citizens.  Some of our young woman went to cooking school in the homes of Russian women.  Many of our foods are similar to Russian foods.

May your Easter be blessed with family, friends, and love.