Sunday, 27 March 2016

"Paska" Russian Easter bread for our yearly Easter brunch...

There are many reasons to like Easter... I have some nice memories of this holidays myself. As kids we would get some small presents, delicious baked goods, tons of eggs which would be coloured by us the day before. Our parents would hide the presents along with the eggs and we would look for them collecting our findings in a small basket. They would tell us stories about Easter bunny and we would be super happy about our findings, having the biggest sugar rush ever.

Now being all grown up, we are doing the same for our kids. There are stories, there is colouring the eggs, sweets and finding games. The house is decorated for Easter and we all are looking forward for the long weekend from work and kindergarden. For me it is another perfect occasion to bake and spoil my boys with something nice. This year I decided to make "Paska" cake, a Russian Easter cake which I do know from my childhood. It was mostly my grandmother baking this cake for Easter, which it is actually not a traditional cake, but more a sweet bread pastry done out of yeast dough. The top of the bread was the most desirable part of the cake as it was topped with a meringue frosting and lot´s of colourful sugar sprinkles. It was sweet, delicious and gorgeous at once, a dish which shall always be there for Easter.

The recipe is easy and the ingredients quite simple, it only needs some raising time and some kneading. Both my boys loved it, I was happy to do it as it does remind me of my childhood, but still I need to admit the once from my grandmother were much better. I guess I need a bit more practise to get there... she was quite unbeatable when it came to baking, especially with yeast.

These days, now when I have a family on my own, the tradition in our family for Easter would be a brunch on Easter Friday or Sunday. Paska is just perfect for brunches, it can be always done in advance, it does decorate the table and it can be eaten in different ways... plain with a cup of coffee, with some butter and cheese for a more filling result, with jam or nutella for all the sweet tooth out there. On the top of the brunch we would always use the days off to go for a long walk in the nature. We are blessed to be in Spain, where the Spring comes bit earlier, hence we always get a change to spend soe time outside during the Easter break.

Paska cake - Russian Easter bread
  • 250 milk (warm)
  • 1 package dry yeast (7 g)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 30 g butter melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 0,5 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 500-600 g flour
Activate the yeast: In a small bowl add yeast, some warm milk and sugar, whisk briefly and cover the mixture with a clean kitchen towel, let it rest for 5-8 minutes, till foam starts to form and you will start to smell the yeast. In a big mixing bowl pour in the remaining milk, add sugar, butter, eggs and salt, mix quickly. Add the activated yeast, some flour and combine all the ingredients. Add remaining flour (leave 50 g aside) ground cardamon and knead all the ingredients. If you do the dough in the stand mixer, it will take between 3-5 minutes, if you do it with hands around 5-10 minutes. Add gradually the remaining flour if the dough appears to be too wet. It shall be still very soft, but not sticking to your hands. Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 1-1,5 hours. 
The dough should be risen to double by now. Grease your baking dish (I used 10 and 15 cm baking tins and would recommend to use the smaller tins), take the dough out knead all the air out of it, divide the dough in 3 equal dough pieces and put them into the baking tins. Cover with the towel and let them rest for additional 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 180C. Beat an egg yolk with some milk and brush the top of the cake, put the tins into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Knock on the top of the bread, if it does make hollow sounds, then the bread is ready. Take it out and let it cool off for 5-10 minutes, then take it out of the form and let is cool completely on the cooling rack.
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • colourful sprinkle
Beat the egg white with the sugar, till the meringue starts to form stiff peaks and all sugar crystals are dissolved. Frost the top of the paska with the meringue frosting and spread a generous amount of the sugar sprinkles.
For the bunny cake I did use my favourite "sugar cake" recipe (makes 2 bunnies). The cake form can be purchased via amazon in Bunny and Easter Lamb form.
The recipe for the vanilla cookies can be find here, I just used melted white chocolate and sugar sprinkles, instead of royal icing, to have them decorated. 
If you would like to have some more inspiration for Easter check some other recipes here and here or here.

Happy Easter Holidays to all of you!!!

Enjoy!




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