Recipe Box: Yeast Bread Recipes for Easter

Yeast Bread Recipes, like paska and hot cross buns, are part of Easter traditions from around the world and can be served as a traditional Easter dish, side dish or even as a delicious Easter dessert.

| January/February 2014

  • A loaf of delicious paska, or Easter bread, adds to any holiday gathering.
    Photo By iStockphoto/Elena_P

Paska, a yeast bread recipe made with milk, butter, eggs, flour and sugar, is a traditional Easter dish found in a number of Eastern European cultures, including the Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria. The Mennonites are sometimes credited with bringing the recipe to the United States.

The icing or topping and paska bread recipes are as varied as the cooks who prepare the dish. Of course, you can always alter the recipe to fit your preference.

As an Easter side dish, paska is usually baked in a round pan, braided and then twisted round to fit the pan. Many people add dough cut-outs in the shape of a cross or other religious symbols to the top of the loaf, or braided dough is added to the edges of the loaf for decoration. An American addition to the paska loaf is a cheese topping made from cottage cheese. Many recipes have the cottage cheese as an ingredient in the bread dough.

As an Easter dessert, paska is sweeter and includes raisins or currants, and sometimes cherries or other fruit. This version is most often baked in cans, or panettone paper baking molds, so the loaf comes out tall and cylindrical, similar to Ukrainian babka or a Russian kulich. The loaf is topped with a sweet white frosting, which is allowed to drip down the sides and is then covered with multicolored sprinkles.

When baking paska, the tradition goes, the household must be peaceful and quiet, and the baker must keep her thoughts pure. It’s a family affair — no strangers or neighbors allowed — and in olden days, the man of the house guarded the entrance to the home while the loaf was being made and baked to keep away threats and those who would curse the family’s future prosperity.

Another Easter tradition is hot cross buns, an English treat immortalized in the street call of “One-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot cross buns!”

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