With a prayer and consecrated willow branch – discover how Ukrainian housewives from the Transcarpathian region bake Easter paska.
Paska is one of the most important Easter dishes on the holiday table in Ukraine. Ukrainian housewives have passed down the recipes for paska from generation to generation, and following the recommendations to bake good Easter bread is crucial. There is a belief that the family’s well-being for the whole year depends on how well the paska is baked.
The first is Mrs. Olga’s family recipe from Chynadiieve settlement in Zakarpattia oblast. This recipe has not been changed for at least 4 generations. Can you imagine how much wisdom is put into this recipe and how energetically powerful the Easter bread baked following these tips is?
- 4 kg flour
- 3 pinches of salt
- 1 margarine package
- 5 egg yolks
- 100 g yeast
- sugar – to your taste
Baking of Easter bread begins on Friday evening, around 9 o’clock. First, “prychyna” (“cause” in English) = sourdough is prepared from flour, milk, and sugar. All the ingredients are mixed and covered on top with a clean cloth. Next, you should cross the sourdough and put 2 sacred “jokes” (in Galicia, a consecrated willow branch is called a joke). Sourdough is prepared until 4 a.m. At this time, the housewife wakes up, prays, puts on clean clothes, and begins to knead the dough.
First, sift the flour, and add salt and sugar. Next, we mix yolks, margarine, and yeast, which must be rubbed in the palms of your hands. Then we pour enough warm milk so that the dough is neither tough nor soft. Next, the dough is kneaded for an hour and a half, until the hands are clean and the dough stops sticking to the hands. After that, cover the dough with a white cloth, cross it, put 2 consecrated willow branches above, and leave the dough for 1 hour.
At the same time, the fire is lit in the pich (Ukrainian masonry stove), and tin baking forms or cast-iron pots are greased with oil. Finally, the dough is kneaded for the last time, distributed in molds, and left for another hour. After that, Easter bread is decorated with flowers and dough braids, greased with yolk, and put in the stove. But first, you need to check whether the stove is well heated – throw a handful of flour into the oven, if it burns, the paska will burn; if the flour turns yellow, you can put the Easter bread inside and bake it for 1-2 hours.
Taking Easter bread out of the stove, we grease the top with the egg yolk beaten with a feather to make paska “laugh” and “sparkle”. If Easter bread “fell down”, there is a belief that something bad will happen to the family.
Another recipe for Ukrainian paska we’re going to talk about today is from grandmother Onnusha from Mukachevo, an ancient city located in the south-western part of the Zakarpattia region of Ukraine. Usually, Easter bread from this region of Ukraine is decorated with different dough ornaments, flowers, and figures. So, to bake paska you will need the following:
- 2 kg flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp salt
- 150 g margarine
- 1.2 liters milk
- 50 g yeast
Sift flour, stir in salt, and add whipped egg yolks. Dissolve margarine and yeast in warm milk and add a pinch of sugar. Knead the dough and leave it to ferment for 2 hours. After that, distribute the dough into molds greased with dairy butter and leave the Easter bread for another half hour. Grease paska with the whipped yolk and decorate it with dough flowers, ears of wheat, and a cross. Then, bake paska until golden.
The third and last recipe of this articles comes from Palanka, the family of Hanna Andriivna. Though the recipes might seem to have similar recommendations, they still differ, and, as a result, their taste also differs. The following components are used here:
- 2 kg flour
- 5 egg yolks
- 60 g yeast
- 4 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp sugar
- 100 g butter or margarine
- 1.25 l milk
The principle of kneading is the same as in the previous recipes. Knead the dough and put in the molds, filling the third part of each form since the dough will rise. Decorate the Easter bread with dough braids and grease the top with the yolk twice. Bake paska in the stove until cooked thoroughly.
There are only three recipes of a rich variety of recipes for Ukrainian Easter bread. As you see, each of them has its peculiarities and tips. We encourage you to discover and taste more yummy recipes for paska we have on our blog, for instance enjoy a 100-year-old recipe for paska.