Ukrainian Easter Paska


prep 1:00       total 2:30


2 loaves



2 env. active dry yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. flour
1/4 cup warm water
12 cups sifted all-purpose flour *
2 cups milk, warm (100°F to 110°F)
3 lg. eggs, room temperature
8 lg. yolks, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 lemon, zest of
1 orange, zest of
3 tbsp. rum or
8 tbsp. (1 stick each) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup vegetable or
sunflower oil
3 lg. eggs separated **


In a medium bowl combine yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/4 warm water (100°F to 110°F). Mix until smooth. Set bowl aside until mixture is bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add 4 cups flour and milk to yeast mixture. With a wooden spoon, mix until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until double in size, about 30 minutes.

In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat 3 eggs, 8 egg yolks, and sugar until light and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Add the yeast mixture. Add salt, vanilla extract, lemon zest, orange zest, rum or brandy, melted butter, and vegetable oil. Whisk on medium speed until combined.

Remove whisk attachment from machine, and fit with the dough hook attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add enough of the remaining 8 cups flour until dough comes away from side of bowl. Transfer dough to a clean work surface. Knead dough, adding any remaining flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer dough to a large bowl, and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot away from drafts, and let it rise until double in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Place rack in lower two-thirds of oven, and heat to 350°. Butter two 9-inch saucepans. Cut a piece of waxed paper (I prefer parchment paper) about 2 inches longer than the circumference of the saucepan, coat with butter. Fold this in half lengthwise to make a double thickness. Place inside the saucepan, patting it to adhere to the butter. The collar should extend 3 to 4 inches above the rim of the saucepan. Seal the 2-inch flap with more butter. ***

When dough has doubled in bulk, punch down, and set aside one-third of dough in a medium bowl covered with plastic wrap for decorations. Divide remaining two-thirds dough evenly between saucepans. Place bowl and saucepans of dough in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, on a clean work surface, shape reserved dough into desired motifs—solar, crosses, rosettes, birds, braids, scrolls, etc. Keep any dough that is not being used covered with plastic to prevent it from drying out. Brush surface of risen dough in saucepans with 3 lightly beaten egg whites. Attach decorative dough ornaments, using a toothpick if necessary to secure motifs to loaves. Keep in a warm place to rise until it reaches almost the top of pans, 20 to 30 minutes. (Do secure motifs with toothpicks and leave them on to bake then gently take them out after baking.)

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 3 egg yolks and 1 tablespoon water. Brush egg mixture on surface of loaves. Bake for 10 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 325°F, and bake for an additional 50 minutes. Cool paska in pans for 30 minutes. When paska has cooled but is still warm, gently remove from pans, and transfer to a rack to cool.

Author's Comments

This recipe makes a delicious bread!

* I used less, about 9 cups.

** egg whites for brushing under motifs; egg yolks plus 1 Tbsp. water for brushing tops of paska.

*** I like to cut out circles and put on the bottom off pan, paska comes out easier.

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