Paska Bread is a traditional sweet European Easter Bread - a traditional brioche dough, enriched with egg yolks and sugar, and studded with raisins. Homemade bread is so good - and this Easter Bread is something special! I'm lucky to have friends that are Polish and Ukrainian that love to bake as much as I do. Now I'm sharing the heirloom recipe with you too!
This sweet and rich brioche-style bread is perfect cut into thick slices for Easter brunch or dinner. Loaded with raisins (either regular or golden raisins), it can easily be made ahead of time and frozen for your holiday dinner. It's also ridiculously delicious sliced fresh and warm from the oven and slathered with golden butter! If you happen to have extra, it also makes a pretty fantastic French Toast.
One of the first breads that I learned to bake as a young girl from our elderly Russian neighbor, this is a great bread to start your bread-baking adventure with! Mama Kohanek always saved a bit of the bread dough to braid into a decorative top for the bread. If you have the time and want to experiment, this is the perfect dough to work with.
Many of my Ukranian friends serve this bread with butter that has been shaped into lambs, a tradition I didn't know about until we moved to the Cleveland area.
2 packets (4-1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 cups whole milk (warmed to 110 degrees)
7 to 8 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled to room temperature)
5 large egg yolks (lightly beaten)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins (regular raisins or golden raisins) (optional)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
HOW I MAKE THIS:
1. In a large bowl, stir the yeast into the warm milk to dissolve and let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Add 3 cups flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free area until the dough has doubled in size.
3. Soak the raisins for 30 minutes in warm water, then drain and pat dry with paper towels before using.
4. Transfer the dough to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, and add the sugar, melted butter, egg yolks, salt, vanilla, raisins and 4 cups of flour. Mix on low to medium-low speed until the dough comes together, adding more flour a tablespoon at a time, if needed.
5. Knead until dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and satiny - about 7 minutes in a mixer, longer by hand.
6. Place dough in a greased bowl, turn to grease both sides, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
7. Punch down and shape into a round loaf and place in a greased 10-inch or 12-inch round pan. (*SEE NOTE)
8. Cover the dough with greased plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled.
9. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and brush the top with the egg wash.
10. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190 degrees. If the bread is beginning to get too dark, place a tented or loose piece of foil over top. Allow the bread to cool for about 20 minutes in the pans, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
11. Wrap leftover bread in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.
NOTES: *If you want to add a decorative dough decoration to the top of this bread, reserve 1/3 of the dough for decorating. Shape remaining dough into a round loaf as directed above. Shape the reserved dough into braids, rosettes, swirls, a cross, etc., and arrange on top of the dough before covering with greased plastic wrap.
YIELD: one loaf
Originally posted March 2013; revised and reposted April 2019.
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