Sunday, April 01, 2007

Pascha and Easter

During Easter all good little Ukrainian Boys ( and everyone else in Europe for that matter) makes Pascha. Pascha is the easter bread and is generally such a pain in the ass to make that you only want to do it once a year. The Russians make a very Phallic looking Pascha , while the Greeks make what would best be described as a sperm looking bread with an egg baked into it.

I forgot to take pictures until after mixing the dough but here is my pascha recipe .

For 3 loaves in 7" pans (I use my cast iron skillets generally)

Proof yeast (maybe 1 1/2 tsp? I never measure relying on arcane and ancestral pasha skills)

In a sauce pan place

2 C milk
1 C honey
1 C butter
2 tsp Vanilla

Heat this mixture on medium heat until the butter is melted in.

Let it cool for about 20 minutes ( if it is too hot it will kill the yeast or God forbid cook the egg whites) then add

Proofed yeast
3 beaten eggs

In a large bowl ( big enough for kneading) measure out

9 cups of flour

Dump your liquid in and knead for about ten minutes adding flour until you can handle the dough without it sticking to your hands.

Let rise for 1 1/2 hours

Knead for another ten minutes.

Let rise for 45 minutes.

Divide into 3 sections and place in buttered pans

Let rise another 45 minutes

cook for 30- 45 minutes @ 350 degrees

If you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow it is done.

Now for better or worse I always attempt to make large loaves. I shouldn't It is a very very heavy bread and works best in small loaves. But I try any way.
The result being these two loaves ( the braiding is harder than it looks)
The not so nice loaf gets eaten tomorrow.
The nicer loaf ( the prettiest I've made so far) goes in the Easter Basket to get blessed at church. I've not kept this custom since high school but have decided it is a good idea; the OCA priest in town can do it. I'll have hard boiled eggs, pysanky ( you can't eat them but whatever they go in the basket), a butter lamb (which is really fun to make), the vegetables I use for the pasta salad and potato salad, pierogi, Hrutka (an egg concoction near and dear to my heart ; I'll post about it later in the week), some Brie , sour cream, and maybe some tofu for good measure.