Ukrainian Easter Paska
Makes two 9-inch round loaves
2 envelopes (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup warm water
9 - 12 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, warm (100° to 110°)
3 large eggs, room temperature
8 large yolks, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
3 tablespoons rum or brandy
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans
1/2 cup vegetable or sunflower oil
3 large eggs separated [egg whites for brushing under motifs] [egg
yolks plus 1 Tbsp. water for brushing tops of paska]
In a medium bowl combine yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon
sugar, and 1/4 warm water (100° to 110°). 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 mixture from steps 1 and 2. Add
salt, vanilla extract, lemon zest, orange zest, rum or brandy,
melted butter, and vegetable oil. Whisk on medium speed until
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 about 2 inches longer
than the circumference of the saucepan. 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
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.
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°, 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.